Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence)

Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence)

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For the baptistry with the same name in Siena, see Battistero di San Giovanni (Siena)
Battistero di San Giovanni (Siena)
The Battistero di San Giovanni is a religious building in Siena, Italy. It is located in the square with the same name, near the final spans of the choir of the city's cathedral....


The Florence Baptistry or Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St. John) is a religious building in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 (Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

), Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, which has the status of a minor basilica
Minor basilica
Minor basilica is a title given to some Roman Catholic churches. By canon law no Catholic church can be honoured with the title of basilica unless by apostolic grant or from immemorial custom....

.

The octagonal Baptistry stands in both the Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo, Florence
Piazza del Duomo is located in the heart of the historic center of Florence, .It is one of the most visited places in Europe and the world; here we can find the Florence Cathedral with the Cupola del Brunelleschi, the Giotto's Campanile, the Florence Baptistery, the Loggia del Bigallo, the Opera...

 and the Piazza di San Giovanni, across from the Duomo
Santa Maria del Fiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral church of Florence, Italy. The Duomo, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi...

 cathedral and the Giotto bell tower (Campanile di Giotto). It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and 1128. The architecture is in Florentine Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style.

The Baptistry is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 doors with relief sculptures. The south doors were done by Andrea Pisano and the north and east doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti , born Lorenzo di Bartolo, was an Italian artist of the early Renaissance best known for works in sculpture and metalworking.-Early life:...

. The east pair of doors were dubbed by Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 "the Gates of Paradise".

The Italian poet Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 and many other notable Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 figures, including members of the Medici
Medici
The House of Medici or Famiglia de' Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside,...

 family, were baptized in this baptistry. In fact, until the end of the nineteenth century, all Catholic Florentines were baptized here.

History



For a long time, it was believed that the Baptistry was originally a Roman temple
Roman temple
Ancient Roman temples are among the most visible archaeological remains of Roman culture, and are a significant source for Roman architecture. Their construction and maintenance was a major part of ancient Roman religion. The main room housed the cult image of the deity to whom the temple was...

 dedicated to Mars, the tutelary god of the old Florence.

The unscholarly chronicler Giovanni Villani
Giovanni Villani
Giovanni Villani was an Italian banker, official, diplomat and chronicler from Florence who wrote the Nuova Cronica on the history of Florence. He was a leading statesman of Florence but later gained an unsavory reputation and served time in prison as a result of the bankruptcy of a trading and...

 reported this medieval Florentine legend in his fourteenth-century Nuova Cronica
Nuova Cronica
The Nuova Cronica or New Chronicles is a 14th century history of Florence created in a year-by-year linear format and written by the Florentine banker and official Giovanni Villani...

 on the history of Florence
History of Florence
Florence is a major historical city in Italy, distinguished as one of the most outstanding economical, cultural, political and artistic centres in the peninsula from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance.-Prehistoric evidence:...

. However, twentieth-century excavations have shown that there was a first-century Roman wall running through the piazza with the Baptistry, which may have been built on the remains of a Roman guard tower on the corner of this wall, or possibly another Roman building. It is, however, certain that a first octagonal baptistry was erected here in the late fourth or early fifth century. It was replaced or altered by another early Christian baptistry in the sixth century. Its construction is attributed to Theodolinda, queen of the Lombards (570-628) to seal the conversion of her husband, King Authari
Authari
Authari also known as Agilolf, was king of the Lombards from 584 to his death. After his father, Cleph, died in 574, the Lombardic nobility refused to appoint a successor, resulting in ten years interregnum known as the Rule of the Dukes.In 574 and 575 the Lombards made the blunder of invading...

.

Precedents


The octagon had been a common shape for baptisteries for many centuries since early Christian times. The number eight is a symbol of regeneration in Christianity, signifying the six days of creation, the Day of Rest, and a day of re-creation through the Sacrament of Baptism. Other early examples are the Lateran Baptistry (440) that provided a model for others throughout Italy, the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus
Little Hagia Sophia
Little Hagia Sophia , formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus , is a former Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire....

 (527-536) in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and the Basilica of San Vitale
Basilica of San Vitale
The Church of San Vitale — styled an "ecclesiastical basilica" in the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not of architectural basilica form — is a church in Ravenna, Italy, one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine Art and architecture in western Europe...

 in Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

 (548).

The earlier baptistry was the city's second basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 after San Lorenzo, outside the northern city wall, and predates the church Santa Reparata
Santa Reparata (Florence)
Santa Reparata is the former cathedral of Florence, Italy. Its name refers to Saint Reparata, an early virgin martyr who is the co-patron saint of Florence.- History :...

. It was first recorded as such on 4 March 897, when the Count Palatine and envoy of the Holy Roman Emperor sat there to administer justice. The granite pilasters were probably taken from the Roman forum sited at the location of the present Piazza della Reppublica. At that time, the baptistry was surrounded by a cemetery with Roman sarcophagi
Sarcophagus
A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

, used by important Florentine families as tombs (now in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Florence)
The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy is a museum containing many of the original works of art created for the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence. The museum is located just east of the Duomo, near its apse...

).

Construction from about 1059


The present much larger Baptistry was built in Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style around 1059, evidence of the growing economic and political importance of Florence. It was reconsecrated on 6 November 1059 by Pope Nicholas II
Pope Nicholas II
Pope Nicholas II , born Gérard de Bourgogne, Pope from 1059 to July 1061, was at the time of his election the Bishop of Florence.-Antipope Benedict X:...

, a Florentine. According to legend, the marbles were brought from Fiesole
Fiesole
Fiesole is a town and comune of the province of Florence in the Italian region of Tuscany, on a famously scenic height above Florence, 8 km NE of that city...

, conquered by Florence in 1078. Other marble came from ancient structures. The construction was finished in 1128.

An octagonal lantern
Lantern
A lantern is a portable lighting device or mounted light fixture used to illuminate broad areas. Lanterns may also be used for signaling, as 'torches', or as general light sources outdoors . Low light level varieties are used for decoration. The term "lantern" is also used more generically to...

 was added to the pavilion roof around 1150. It was enlarged with a rectangular apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 on the west side in 1202. On the corners, under the roof, are monstrous lion heads with a human head under their claws. They are early representations of Marzocco
Marzocco
The Marzocco is the heraldic lion, best known in the rendition sculpted by Donatello in 1418–20, that is a symbol of Florence.Donatello's Marzocco was commissioned by the Republic of Florence for the apartment of Pope Martin V at Santa Maria Novella, where this traditional insegna of...

, the heraldic Florentine lion (see Loggia dei Lanzi
Loggia dei Lanzi
The Loggia dei Lanzi, also called the Loggia della Signoria, is a building on a corner of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy, adjoining the Uffizi Gallery. It consists of wide arches open to the street, three bays wide and one bay deep. The arches rest on clustered pilasters with...

).

Between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, three bronze double doors were added, with bronze and marble statues above them. This gives an indication that the Baptistry, at that time, was at least equal to the neighbouring cathedral in importance.

Exterior



The Baptistry has eight equal sides with a rectangular addition on the west side.

The sides, originally in sandstone, are clad in geometrically patterned colored marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

, white Carrara
Carrara
Carrara is a city and comune in the province of Massa-Carrara , notable for the white or blue-grey marble quarried there. It is on the Carrione River, some west-northwest of Florence....

 marble with green Prato marble inlay, reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128. The pilasters on each corner, originally in grey stone, were decorated with white and dark green marble in a zebra-like pattern by Arnolfo di Cambio
Arnolfo di Cambio
Arnolfo di Cambio was an Italian architect and sculptor.-Biography:Arnolfo was born in Colle Val d'Elsa, Tuscany....

 in 1293.

The style of this church would serve as prototype, influencing many architects, such as Leone Battista Alberti
Leone Battista Alberti
Leon Battista Alberti was an Italian author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, cryptographer and general Renaissance humanist polymath...

, in their design of Romanesque churches in Tuscany.

The exterior is also ornamented with a number of artistically significant statues by Andrea Sansovino
Andrea Sansovino
Andrea dal Monte Sansovino or Andrea Contucci del Monte San Savino was an Italian sculptor active during the High Renaissance...

 (above the Gates of Paradise), Giovan Francesco Rustici, Vincenzo Danti
Vincenzo Danti
Vincenzo Danti was an Italian Renaissance sculptor from Perugia.His father was an architect and goldsmith, and Vincenzo developed an interest in drawing and goldsmithing. In 1545 he went to Rome to study sculpture and in 1553 he managed to secure a commission for a bronze statue of Pope Julius III...

 (above the south doors) and others.

The design work on the sides is arranged in groupings of three, starting with three distinct horizontal sections. The middle section features three blind arch
Arch
An arch is a structure that spans a space and supports a load. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.-Technical aspects:The...

es on each side, each arch containing a window. These have alternate pointed and semicircular tympani
Pediment
A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure , typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding...

. Below each window is a stylized arch design. In the upper fascia
Fascia (architecture)
Fascia is a term used in architecture to refer to a frieze or band running horizontally and situated vertically under the roof edge or which forms the outer surface of a cornice and is visible to an outside observer...

, there are also three small windows, each one in the center block of a three-panel design.

The apse was originally semicircular, but was it was made rectangular in 1202.

Baptistry doors



Andrea Pisano


As recommended by Giotto, Andrea Pisano
Andrea Pisano
Andrea Pisano , also known as Andrea da Pontedera, was an Italian sculptor and architect.-Biography:Andrea Pisano was born at Pontedera, where he also died....

 was awarded the commission to design the first set of doors in 1329. The south doors were originally installed on the east side, facing the Duomo, and were transferred to their present location in 1452. The bronze-casting and gilding was done by the Venetian Leonardo d'Avanzano, widely recognized as one of the best bronze smiths in Europe. This took six years, the doors being completed in 1336. These proto-Renaissance doors consist of 28 quatrefoil
Quatrefoil
The word quatrefoil etymologically means "four leaves", and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts.-In heraldry:In heraldic terminology, a quatrefoil is a representation of a flower with four petals, or a leaf with four leaflets . It is sometimes shown "slipped", i.e. with an...

 panels, with the twenty top panels depicting scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

. The eight lower panels depict the eight virtues of hope, faith, charity, humility, fortitude, temperance, justice and prudence. The moulded reliefs in the doorcase were added by Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti , born Lorenzo di Bartolo, was an Italian artist of the early Renaissance best known for works in sculpture and metalworking.-Early life:...

 in 1452. There is a Latin inscription on top of the door: "Andreas Ugolini Nini de Pisis me fecit A.D. MCCCXXX" (Andrea Pisano made me in 1330).

The group of bronze statues above the gate depict The Beheading of St John the Baptist. It is the masterwork of Vincenzo Danti
Vincenzo Danti
Vincenzo Danti was an Italian Renaissance sculptor from Perugia.His father was an architect and goldsmith, and Vincenzo developed an interest in drawing and goldsmithing. In 1545 he went to Rome to study sculpture and in 1553 he managed to secure a commission for a bronze statue of Pope Julius III...

 from 1571.

Lorenzo Ghiberti


In 1401, a competition was announced by the Arte di Calimala
Arte di Calimala
The Arte di Calimala, the guild of the cloth finishers and merchants in foreign cloth, was one of the greater guilds of Florence, the Arti Maggiori, who arrogated to themselves the civic power of the Republic of Florence during the Late Middle Ages...

 (Cloth Importers Guild) to design doors which would eventually be placed on the north side of the baptistry. (The original location for these doors was the east side of the baptistry, but the doors were moved to the north side of the baptistry after Ghiberti completed his second commission, known as the "Gates of Paradise.")

These new doors would serve as a votive offering to celebrate the sparing of Florence from relatively recent scourges such as the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 in 1348. Many artists competed for this commission and a jury selected seven semifinalists. These finalists include Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti , born Lorenzo di Bartolo, was an Italian artist of the early Renaissance best known for works in sculpture and metalworking.-Early life:...

, Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. He is perhaps most famous for inventing linear perspective and designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but his accomplishments also included bronze artwork, architecture , mathematics,...

, Donatello
Donatello
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi , also known as Donatello, was an early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence...

 and Jacopo della Quercia
Jacopo della Quercia
Jacopo della Quercia was an Italian sculptor of the Italian Renaissance, a contemporary of Brunelleschi, Ghiberti and Donatello. He is considered a precursor of Michelangelo.-Biography:...

, with 21-year old Ghiberti winning the commission. At the time of judging, only Ghiberti and Brunelleschi were finalists, and when the judges could not decide, they were assigned to work together on them. Brunelleschi's pride got in the way, and he went to Rome to study architecture leaving Ghiberti to work on the doors himself. Ghiberti's autobiography, however, claimed that he had won, "without a single dissenting voice." The original designs of The Sacrifice of Isaac by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi are on display in the museum of the Bargello
Bargello
The Bargello, also known as the Bargello Palace or Palazzo del Popolo is a former barracks and prison, now an art museum, in Florence, Italy.-Terminology:...

.

It took Ghiberti 21 years to complete these doors. These gilded bronze doors consist of twenty-eight panels, with twenty panels depicting the life of Christ from the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

. The eight lower panels show the four evangelists and the Church Fathers Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, Saint Gregory and Saint Augustine. The panels are surrounded by a framework of foliage in the door case and gilded busts of prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

s and sibyl
Sibyl
The word Sibyl comes from the Greek word σίβυλλα sibylla, meaning prophetess. The earliest oracular seeresses known as the sibyls of antiquity, "who admittedly are known only through legend" prophesied at certain holy sites, under the divine influence of a deity, originally— at Delphi and...

s at the intersections of the panels. Originally installed on the east side, in place of Pisano's doors, they were later moved to the north side. They are described by Antonio Paolucci as "the most important event in the history of Florentine art in the first quarter of the 15th century".

The bronze statues over the northern gate depict John the Baptist preaching to a Pharisee and Sadducee. They were sculpted by Francesco Rustici
Francesco Rustici
Francesco Rustici was an Italian painter of the Baroque period. He was initially a pupil of his father Cristoforo Rustici, then became a follower of the style of Caravaggio. Francesco painted an Annunciation for the church of the Madonna di Provenzano in Siena. He painted a Death of Mary Magdalen...

 and are superior to any sculpture he did before. Rustici may have been aided in his design by Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

, who assisted him in the choice of his tools.

Ghiberti was now widely recognized as a celebrity and the top artist in this field. He was showered with commissions, even from the pope. In 1425 he got a second commission, this time for the east doors of the baptistry, on which he and his workshop (including Michelozzo
Michelozzo
thumb|250px|[[Palazzo Medici]] in Florence.Michelozzo di Bartolomeo Michelozzi was an Italian architect and sculptor.-Biography:...

 and Benozzo Gozzoli
Benozzo Gozzoli
Benozzo Gozzoli was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. He is best known for a series of murals in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi depicting festive, vibrant processions with wonderful attention to detail and a pronounced International Gothic influence.-Apprenticeship:He was born Benozzo di...

) toiled for 27 years, excelling themselves. These had ten panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, and were in turn installed on the east side. The panels are large rectangles and are no longer embedded in the traditional Gothic quatrefoil, as in the previous doors. Ghiberti employed the recently discovered principles of perspective to give depth to his compositions. Each panel depicts more than one episode. In "The Story of Joseph" is portrayed the narrative scheme of Joseph Cast by His Brethren into the Well, Joseph Sold to the Merchants, The merchants delivering Joseph to the pharaoh, Joseph Interpreting the Pharaoh's dream, The Pharaoh Paying him Honour, Jacob Sends His Sons to Egypt and Joseph Recognizes His Brothers and Returns Home. According to Vasari's Lives
Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects
The Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, from Cimabue to Our Times, or Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori da Cimabue insino a' tempi nostri, as it was originally known in Italian, is a series of artist biographies written by 16th century...

, this panel was the most difficult and also the most beautiful. The figures are distributed in very low relief in a perspective space (a technique invented by Donatello and called rilievo schiacciato, which literally means "flattened relief".) Ghiberti uses different sculptural techniques, from incised lines to almost free-standing figure sculpture, within the panels, further accentuating the sense of space.

The panels are included in a richly decorated gilt framework of foliage and fruit, many statuettes of prophets and 24 busts. The two central busts are portraits of the artist and of his father, Bartolomeo Ghiberti.

Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 referred to these doors as fit to be the "Gates of Paradise" (It. Porte del Paradiso), and they are still invariably referred to by this name. Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

 described them a century later as "undeniably perfect in every way and must rank as the finest masterpiece ever created". Ghiberti himself said they were "the most singular work that I have ever made".

Preservation of original art


The "Gates of Paradise" situated in the Baptistry are a copy of the originals, substituted in 1990 to preserve the panels after over five hundred years of exposure and damage. To protect the original panels for the future, the panels are being restored and kept in a dry environment in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Florence)
The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy is a museum containing many of the original works of art created for the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence. The museum is located just east of the Duomo, near its apse...

, the museum of the Duomo's art and sculpture. Some of the original panels are on view in the museum; the remaining original panels are being restored and cleaned using lasers in lieu of potentially damaging chemical baths. Three original panels made a US tour in 2007-2008, and then were reunited in a frame and hermetically sealed with the intention of making the panels appear in the context of the doors for public viewing.
One of the few copies made in the 1940s is installed in Grace Cathedral, in San Francisco.

Other contributors


The two porphyry columns on each side of the Gates of Paradise were plundered by the Pisa
Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

ns in Majorca and given in gratitude to the Florentines in 1114 for protecting their city against Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

 while the Pisan fleet was conquering the island.

The Gates of Paradise are surmounted by a (copy of a) group of statues portraying the The Baptism of Christ by Andrea Sansovino. The originals are in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. He then left to Rome to work on a new commission, leaving these statues unfinished. Work on these statues was continued much later in 1569 by Vincenzo Danti, a sculptor from the school of Michelangelo. At his death in 1576 the group was almost finished. The group was finally completed with the addition of an angel by Innocenzo Spinazzi
Innocenzo Spinazzi
Innocenzo Spinazzi was an Italian sculptor of the Rococo period active in Rome and Florence.-Biography:Born in Rome to a silversmith, he became the leading sculptor in Florence, where he died. He was trained by Giovanni Battista Maini...

 in 1792.


Interior



The vast interior of the Baptistry recalls the interior of the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

 in Rome. The interior is rather dark, light entering through small windows in the ambulatory
Ambulatory
The ambulatory is the covered passage around a cloister. The term is sometimes applied to the procession way around the east end of a cathedral or large church and behind the high altar....

 and through the lantern. The interior is divided in a lower part with columns and pilasters and an upper part with an ambulatory. The Florentines didn't spare any trouble or expense to decorate the baptistry. The interior walls are clad in dark green and white marble with inlaid geometrical patterns. The niches are separated by monolithic columns of Sardinian granite. The marble revetment of the interior was begun in the second half of the eleventh century.

The rectangular apse was faced with mosaics in 1225.

The building contains the monumental Tomb of Antipope John XXIII
Tomb of Antipope John XXIII
The Tomb of Antipope John XXIII is the marble and bronze tomb monument of Antipope John XXIII , created by Donatello and Michelozzo for the Florence Baptistry adjacent to the Duomo...

 by Donatello and Michelozzo Michelozzi. A gilt statue, with the face turned to the spectator, reposes on a deathbed, supported by two lions, under a canopy of gilt drapery. He had bequeathed several relics and his great wealth to this baptistry. Such a monument with a baldachin
Baldachin
A baldachin, or baldaquin , is a canopy of state over an altar or throne. It had its beginnings as a cloth canopy, but in other cases it is a sturdy, permanent architectural feature, particularly over high altars in cathedrals, where such a structure is more correctly called a ciborium when it is...

 was a first in the Renaissance.

The mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

 marble pavement was begun in 1209. The geometric patterns in the floor are complex. Some show us oriental zodiac motifs, such as the slab of the astrologer Strozzo Strozzi. There was an octagonal font, its base still clearly visible in the middle of the floor. This font, which once stood in the church of Santa Reparata, was installed here in 1128. Dante is said to have broken one of the lower basins while rescuing a child from drowning. The font was removed in 1571 on orders from the grand duke Francesco I de' Medici
Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany was the second Grand Duke of Tuscany, ruling from 1574 to 1587.- Biography :...

. The present, and much smaller, octagonal font stands near the south entrance. It was installed in 1658 but is probably much older. The reliefs are attributed to Andrea Pisano
Andrea Pisano
Andrea Pisano , also known as Andrea da Pontedera, was an Italian sculptor and architect.-Biography:Andrea Pisano was born at Pontedera, where he also died....

 or his school.

Mosaic ceiling



The Baptistry is crowned by a magnificent mosaic ceiling. The earliest mosaics, works of art of many unknown Venetian craftsmen (including probably Cimabue
Cimabue
Cimabue , also known as Bencivieni di Pepo or in modern Italian, Benvenuto di Giuseppe, was an Italian painter and creator of mosaics from Florence....

), date from 1225. The covering of the ceiling started under the direction of the Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 friar Jacopo da Torrita and was probably not completed until the fourteenth century.

This mosaic cycle depicts in the three sections above the high altar, the Last Judgment
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

 with a gigantic, majestic Christ and the Angels of Judgment at each side by Coppo di Marcovaldo
Coppo di Marcovaldo
Coppo di Marcovaldo was an Italian painter active in Tuscany.-Biography:He was born in Florence, and is mentioned as active in Pistoia in 1265, where he frescoed the St...

, the rewards of the saved leaving their tomb in joy (at Christ's right hand), and the punishments of the damned (at Christ's left hand). This last part is particularly famous: evil doers are burnt by fire, roasted on spits, crushed with stones, bit by snakes, gnawed and chewed by hideous beasts. These scenes remind us of later works showing us in grisly detail the horrors of hell, such as The Last Judgment or the panel Hell (from the triptych
Triptych
A triptych , from tri-= "three" + ptysso= "to fold") is a work of art which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works...

 The Garden of Earthly Delights), both by the Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch.

Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

, who grew up looking at these mosaics and these images of death and resurrection, must have been deeply impacted.

The other scenes on the ceiling depict different stories in horizontal tiers of mosaic : (starting at the top) Choirs of Angels, Thrones, Dominations, and Powers; stories from the Book of Genesis; stories of Joseph; stories of Mary and the Christ and finally in the lower tier : stories of Saint John the Baptist.

In the drum under the ceiling are many heads of prophets, attributed to Gaddo Gaddi
Gaddo Gaddi
Gaddo Gaddi was an Italian painter and mosaicist of Florence in a gothic art style. Almost no works survive. He was the father of Taddeo Gaddi. He completed mosaics on facade of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome...

, a friend of Cimabue.



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