Wandering through the Cathedral in Sevilla, Spain, this week, I came across a remarkable ceramic relief sculpture of a woman with a baby in her arms entitled “Our Lady of the Cushion.” The work is attributed to the workshop of Andrea della Robbia.
Andrea della Robbia was an Italian Renaissance ceramic sculptor who flourished in Florence, Italy, during the late 1400s. Most of his work is in or near Florence, so I was surprised to run across an example in southern Spain.
Andrea della Robbia was the nephew of Luca della Robbia, also a ceramic sculptor, and Andrea first trained under his uncle’s tutelage as a stone sculptor. He later worked extensively in glazed terracotta, carrying on certain stylistic traditions of his uncle. Andrea was so successful he, in turn, hired assistants (including 5 of his sons) to handle a large number of commissions for these types of relief sculptures around Italy.
This particular relief sculpture is placed on a plain gray stone wall of a side chapel of the Cathedral. It would be easily overlooked in this immense interior space (the Cathedral of Sevilla is the largest gothic cathedral in the world) except for the lighting. However, the cathedral staff has pointed a light down upon the wall highlighting the piece. My photographs don’t do this justice, but the light focuses one’s eye on the relief sculpture, picking it out from the general gloom. It glows.