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DELLA ROBBIA (q.v.)

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Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 658 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DELLA ROBBIA (q.v.). From these two centres the development of architectural terra-cotta gradually spread over western Europe. The German school influenced the work done in the Low Countries and finally in England, where it also met the direct influence of the Italian school due to the invasion of England by Italian artists such as Torrigiano and others who were invited to England during the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII. It is only in the eastern and southern counties of England that we find instances of the terracotta work of this period, and much of it is so un-English in style that most authorities consider it was not made in England at all but was imported from Holland or Flanders. Essex possesses the finest examples; such as those to be found in the Manor House at Layer Marney, and a richly-decorated terracotta tomb in the church at the same place, both dating from the reign of Henry VIII. In the Collegiate Church at Wymondham in Norfolk there are very large and elaborate sedilia with canopied niches all of terra-cotta of the same period and apparently of the same manufacture. The unsettlement which followed the Reformation in England and continued during the Stuart period seems to have put an end to this imported art, and it is only in modern times that we find a revival of architectural terracotta work in England. France.—Another offshoot from the fertile plains of northern Italy was implanted in France during the 16th century. Many sculptors from northern and central Italy were attracted to France by Francis I. and his successors, and, among other arts, they introduced the making of artistic terracottas. The most famous name in the lists of these Italian artists is that of Girolamo della Robbia (see article DELLA ROBBIA), who executed, in 1529, the enamelled terracotta for the decoration of the " Petit Chateau de Madrid " in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, for Francis I.2 Many other Italian artists of lesser repute imported their arts into France, and the British Museum possesses an embossed tile bearing the head of St John the Baptist, encircled by a Gothic inscription, which was evidently made at Lyons during the 16th century. The very mould of this tile, together with other subjects of similar type, was excavated at Lyons and, while it is probable that the workmanship was Italian, the style of the modelling is entirely French in character. Spain.—At about the same period the Italian modellers or sculptors carried the art into Spain, and many extraordinary works are still extant irr various Spanish churches remarkable for their vivid realism and for a too pictorial style which degrades them from their true rank as architectural decoration. During the 17th and 18th centuries the architectural use of terracotta again fell away owing to the increasing use of marble, but that the art still survived in other forms is shown by the portrait busts of Dwight (17th century), though they were made in stoneware and not in unglazed terracotta ; and the charming little statuettes and groups made in Lorraine and the adjacent parts of France by Guibal, Cyffle and Lemire, sculptors employed at some of the pottery factories of the period. It should be mentioned that during the 18th century ordinary clay had fallen into disrepute, but the porcelain figures made at Meissen, Sevres and other continental factories show how persistent the vogue of figure-modelling in clay had become—though the clay was porcelain clay and not ordinary terracotta (see CERAMICS). Modern.—During the last fifty years there has been throughout Europe a great revival in the manufacture of terracotta, both glazed and unglazed. We have in England, for example, some very important buildings, such as the Natural History Museum, the Albert ' The Victoria and Albert Museum has a splendid and representative collection of these Italian terracottas. 2 This last and most extensive of the works in terracotta executed by the Robbia family was destroyed during the French Revolution in 1792, but exact drawings of it are still in existence showing aP the necessary details. Hall, and the Royal College of Science, all in South Kensington, London, which illustrate to perfection the English terracotta work of the mid-Victorian period. The Rijks Museum at Amsterdam, and many important buildings in the north of Germany, in Belgium and in France, display the increasing use of baked clay for architectural purposes. The effort of all terracotta makers during recent times has been to produce a building material capable of resisting the acids and soot contained in the atmosphere of our great towns. Technically many of the leading manufacturers in England and the continental countries have been very successful in this effort, as they are able to produce building materials of pleasant colour and texture which are practically acid-resisting. Critics of this modern development of terracotta as a building material frequently complain of the want of truth in the lines of cornices, door or window jambs, &c. For this default the manufacturer is not so much to blame as are those modern architects who design a building for stone construction and then decide to have it executed in terracotta. The shrink-age of clay both in drying and firing is well known, and it is this shrinkage which causes large pieces of terracotta to twist or become crooked. When our modern architects shall have realized that the details of a building must be designed specially for the material that is to be used in its construction, terracotta will come into its own again as a decorative building material. The present method of constructing buildings in reinforced concrete, faced with glazed or unglazed terracotta, will afford the architects of the 2oth century an unrivalled opportunity for the use of this material. Collections.—The Louvre, British Museum, and the museums of Berlin and Athens have remarkably fine collections of the Greek and Roman terracottas, and many provincial museums, such as those of Florence, Perugia, Rome, Naples, Nimes and Arles, have also collections of importance. The best collections of Greek terra-cotta figures are in the British Museum, the Louvre and the museums of Berlin and Athens; but a large number of the finest Greek terracotta figures are in private collections. In the Victoria and Albert Museum there is a remarkable collection of fine Florentine terracottas of the best periods. cotten des k. Museums zu Berlin (1842); Combe, Terracottas in the British Museum (London, 181o); and Gerhard, Monumenti figulini di Sicilia (Berlin, 1835); A. Baumeister, Denkmdler des klassischen Altertums, 3 vols. (Munich and Leipzig, 1884-89); E. T. Cook, Handbook to the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum (London, 1903) ; A. S. Murray, Handbook of Greek Archaeology (London, 1892) ; S. Reinach, The Story of Art through the Ages, chaps. iv.-x. (Eng. trans., 1904) ; H. R. Hall, The Oldest Civilization of Greece (London, 1901); Annual of British School at Athens, vols. vii.-x. (1900-4) (for excavations in Crete). See also Quarterly Review (October 1904), p. 374; W. J. Anderson and P. Spiers, The Architecture of Greece and Rome (London, 1902) ; H. B. Walters, Ancient Pottery, 2 vols. (London, 1905) ; British Museum Catalogue of Terracottas (1903); C. A. Hutton, Greek Terracottas (Portfolio Monograph, No. 48) (London, 1889) ; H. B. Walters, The Art of the Greeks (London, 1906) ; G. E. Street, R.A., Brick and Marble Architecture in North Italy (London, 1855, second edition 1874). (W. B."; H. B. WA.)
End of Article: DELLA ROBBIA (q.v.)
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