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On this day in 1477, Francesco della Robbia was born in Florence. Son of the sculptor Andrea and great-nephew of Luca, Francesco learned the art of glazed terra-cotta that his great uncle and father had made famous in the early fifteenth century. Like his father, Francesco was a follower of the charismatic preacher Girolamo Savonarola (d. 1498), which perhaps led him to enter the Dominican convent of San Marco in 1495, taking the name Fra Ambrogio. Despite this pursuit of a religious life, he nevertheless stayed connected to the family’s glazed terracotta business and created a number of altarpieces, including the Nativity at La Verna. Despite his vows as a Dominican, he frequently collaborated with his brother Marco (b. 1468) and spent time with him in the 1520s working near Macerata in the Marches, where they created numerous glazed terracottas and helped to spread their famous technique across Italy.
Nativity, 1490s, glazed terracotta, Santa Maria degli Angeli, La Verna
Portrait of Girolamo Savonarola, 1498-1502, colored plaster in maplewood box, Museo di San Marco, Florence
The Alessi website calls this cute corkscrew “a tongue-in-cheek homage to a real woman.” However, the curator of “The Main Dish" exhibition, Erica Warren, suggests a more literal translation involving the objectification of women: "She’s got her smiling face. Always ready to open that bottle of wine for you." What do you think?
”Anna G.” Corkscrew, 1994, designed by Alessandro Mendini and made by Alessi, S.p.A.