Robbia, Luca Della

Robbia, Luca della, an Italian sculptor, was born at Florence in 1388. His first instructor was a goldsmith named Leonardo, from whom he learned to model in wax; but as soon as he had gained some proficiency, he gave himself wholly to sculpture. So great was his progress that at the age of fifteen he was employed to design the bas-reliefs for a tomb at Rimini. Similar work at Florence occupied him for several years, but he found that the compensation he received was in no way adequate, as the works required great skill and much time. He therefore turned his attention to working in terra cotta. He invented a peculiar enamel, composed of tin, antimony, and other minerals, by which, after baking, this material was rendered more durable.He afterwards found that his bas-reliefs could be colored, and this improvement rendered him famous throughout Europe. The demand for his work was universal, and to supply it, Luca employed his brothers to aid him. Their subjects in bas-reliefs, plaques, and other forms were principally religious, as, an Annunciation, in the Academy of Fine Arts at Florence, and a very beautiful medallion in the Louvre, The Virgin Adoring the Infant Jesus. He also decorated many churches and tombs. Robbia died at Florence in 1493. See Vasari, Baldinucci, and Barbet di Jouy [H.], Della Robbia, etc.

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