An Analysis of 'Virgin and Child with Lilies'

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Virgin and child with Lilies

Currently situated at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Luca della Robbia’s Virgin and Child with Lilies is a sculpture created in relief to give the impression that it has been raised above the background plane. This fine piece of art has been sculpted from terracotta, a glazed clay-based ceramic and along with clear religious aspects; the work of art is given a hard realism via individual techniques of the artist.

The relief shows colors such as blue, white, green and gold and they demonstrate Luca della Robbia’s approach to adding color to sculpture, which Pater explains to be an ‘unskillful contrivance to effect, by borrowing from another art, what the nobler sculpture effects by strictly appropriate means’. This therefore helping me appreciate the artists simplistic thought of excellence in approaching techniques to demonstrate uniqueness to his art at the time of the Renaissance period.

Pater talks about ‘the feelings and actions of the special moment, all that (because in its own nature it endues but for a moment) is apt to look like a frozen thing if one arrests it. This made me feel like I understood the personalities of the characters in the sculpture. For example, the act of the Virgin showing the child nature and other life form.

I felt I deeply appreciated the construction of his work. As Pater puts it, sculpture has been constructed through subtle extract or essence of ideas and pure thoughts. It helped me to recognize the massive amount of detail in the sculpture that would’ve been sculpted to create the image he would of wanted to convey. The effect even gives the art a shadow to emphasize and express the realism.

Pater’s comment about the system of low relief overcoming the special limitation of sculpture and how this gives the art an individuality of expression pushed to caricature made me feel that the way this piece of art was constructed was to ‘vainly compete with the reality of nature itself’....
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