By the end of the 15th century more of the production was taken on by assistants, including several of Andrea's sons, who would carry on the family business after Andrea's death in 1525. The most distinguished of his sons, Giovanni della Robbia, continued this legacy with much success, introducing several innovations of his own. Giovanni’s early works in collaboration with his father include a series of medallions in the Loggia of San Paolo (1493–95) and the present predella. His first documented work for which he was individually contracted was a grand lavabo in Santa Maria Novella (1497).
The present composition of the Nativity with flanking pilasters incorporating olive branches was Andrea's invention. As Gentilini explains in his extensive entry on this relief (2009, op.cit., no. 36), from the mid 1460s, Andrea produced variations on this theme. In 1458, Andrea was commissioned to produce an altarpiece which is now in Santa Maria Angeli in Assisi. The Nativity scene on the predella of that work shows the figures within a cave and angel above announcing the birth of Christ. In the central relief of the predella of the triptych in Santa Fioria circa 1464 the Virgin appears in an enclosed setting with a covered head and a shepherd. By 1466, Andrea's compositions are slightly simplified and more symmetrical, with two trees flanking the scene, like the present composition (see Marquand, op. cit., p. 62, no. 168, fig. 170 for the Oratory of the Arciconfraternita della Misericordia, Florence ). The designs are again somewhat transformed in the later 15th century when Andrea's compositions become more austere, almost certainly motivated by the influence Savanorola’s strict religious teachings in Florence at that time (Gentilini 1992, vol. I, op.cit.., Museo Civico, Montepulciano predella relief on altar originally for Santa Maria Fontecastello, circa 1480-84, p. 198)(fig. 1).
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