Offered for sale is an important early 19th century life-size Terracotta bust of Alexander the Great after the 13th century workshops of Luca Della Robbia and the earlier 12th century wares of slip decorated mezzo-majolica.
The history of enameled faience or majolica in Italy is clouded, however, it has been ascertained that decorating wares on a red earthen body and concealing it with a thin white slip was practiced as early as the 12th century. This process was called mezzo-majolica. It was Luca Della Robbia, born in Florence, in 1400 that spent many years improving this application as a protective covering for the surface of outdoor Terracotta that would be exposed to the elements. Other artists and ceramicists copied his techniques well into the 19th century, but he is credited with perfecting the tin-glazed multi-colored enamels that are so sought after by collectors.
A similar life-size bust of the Virgin Mary can be found in a museum in Ferrara Italy. They date this piece to the 15th century and to the workshops of Della Robbia. We cannot substantiate that this bust carries that lineage, but were told by the former owners that it was an ancient and very important piece. Further searches have found a similar bust by Giovanni Bastianini, ca. 1860, located in the terracotta sculpture collection of Isabella Stewart Gardner now on view through May 23, 2010 in Boston, MA.
The bust is in excellent condition with crazing to the white slip glaze to be expected and present in pieces of this age. There are no repairs or restorations, and the mere fact that it is in this condition, leads us to believe that it is probably late 18th to early 19th century instead of 14th to 15th century.
Nevertheless, it is a large and impressive piece of sculpture, sure to find an important spotlight in any collector's pottery portfolio.
Size: 31" Height x 20" Width x 9" (approximate diameter of pedestal base).
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