Sunday, 6 December 2009

Blacks still under warps even at the new V&A MedRen Wing

I was very disappointed to find on my first visit to the V&A’s new Medieval and Renaissance wing only to find the one piece I really wanted to see - A della Robbia ceramic altar piece with its black in the Magi preocession - was the only piece still not on full view to the public, as you can see in the picture below.

From Della Robbia


I wanted to see it ‘live’ as it was one of the three pieces I considered for my essay, I wanted to write that the black and rear of della Robbia’s Magi’s procession. It was eliminated because at the time – June 08 – I couldn’t see the work as it was in pieces in storage not accessible to the general public for health and safety reasons .

There were two restorers working on the pice one of who was kind enough to take these close up pictures of the black for me:

From Della Robbia


What a delight to see a sensitive and thoughtful bust of a black with much evidence of della Robbia’s possible contact with blacks – the broad nose, the fleshy lips strong cheek bones. One could speculate that this black was known to della Robba perhaps as a his own or a friend’s or patron’s slave or servant. This working is characteristic of artist who have actually had personal contact with the blacks they portrayed: such as Durer’s beautiful 1521 drawings of The Negress Katherina. the servant of the Portuguese factor João Brandão in Antwerp, when she was aged "20 Jar," according to the handwritten note (copyright http://www.wga.hu/). This quality of work is in direct contacts to the primitive coarsely worked black in the Rood screen.

From BHM2K8

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