This relief was made for the tympanum of the entrance to a chapel in the Castello of Trebbio, built by Michelozzo for the Medici family. The sad, serious face of the Virgin Mary possesses a classical beauty. In it we see united the ideal image of an Italian Renaissance woman and the conceptions that equated the Madonna with the goddesses of antiquity. The angels on either side indicate the divine status of the Madonna who, like the Christ Child, is shown without a halo. Luca della Robbia was the first to use a modified form of the tin glaze commonly found on ceramic vessels in the making of weather-resistant terracotta sculptural images. The glaze gave his chosen cool colour scheme – white figures on a blue background – a distinctive luminous power.


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