Terracotta Aumbries of Renaissance Tuscany

In terms of the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, since the time of Trent Catholics are typically accustomed to the use of tabernacles for this purpose, however this is only one form for reserving the Eucharist. Historically there was also other forms such as the hanging pyx, the Sacrament Tower and, less well known, the aumbry. 

Aumbries were quite simply a recessed space, built into a wall, enclosed by a door -- one might consider it like a kind of "wall safe" in modern terms. Aumbries (which comes from the Latin, armarium, meaning a place to store tools) might contain the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Oils, or even church plate.  Given the importance of the contents found within these aumbries, it is little surprise that there would be a desire to ornament them, thereby demarcating their function and importance within the church. 

Today we are going to look at a few examples of these coming from within the context of Renaissance Tuscany and their distinctive glazed ceramic reliefs.

Florence, 1500-1512, by Andrea della Robbia -- it includes the inscription "Hic est panis qui de celo descendit" (This is the bread that came down from heaven.)

An aumbry for the Oil of the Sick by Andrea della Robbia. Florence, first half of the 15th century.

Florence, cca. 1502-1503 by Andrea della Robbia

16th century Florentinea aumbry/tabernacle (Detail on right)

Aumbry/tabernacle by Giovanna della Robbia, ca. 1520-1530


Aumbry/tabernacle by Giovanna della Robbia, ca. 1494

16th century aumbry/tabernacle with Ss. Catherine of Alexandria and Francis of Assisi 

Circa 1495 by Andrea della Robbia, San Sepolcro, Cortona

Andrea della Robbia, ca. 1465-1490

Andrea della Robbia, ca. 1490-1500, Pisa

Andrea della Robbia, 1500-1524, Fiesole

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