Baptistry : Michelin's recommendations
Attention is particularly drawn to three bronze doors. The Gothic-style South door, sculpted by Pisano from 1330 onwards, has quatrefoil panels illustrating the theological and cardinal virtues in the two lower sections and the life of John the Baptist in the upper medallions. The North door was made by the young Ghiberti between 1403 and 1424, who won the commission in a competition: he followed Pisano's formats but gave more emphasis to the figures. The lower sections represent learned men of the Church and Evangelists, with the upper five sections relating the life of Christ, in sequence from bottom to top and from left to right. The East Door, also the work of Ghiberti, was given the name of Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo: the door (1425 to 1452) moved away from the Gothic-style of partitioning to a framework division which enabled a more complex form of narration to be developed. The multitude of figures obliged the goldsmith-sculptor to work in relief to reproduce the various levels of scenes taken from the Old Testament: The Creation, Cain and Abel, the Story of Noah, Jacob and Esau, Moses receiving the Tables of the Law and Solomon and the Queen of Saba. Inside, the cupola is particularly striking with its vast mosaic fresco, undoubtedly the work of 13C Venetian artists, inspired by Byzantine art. On a gold background is a vast representation of the Last Judgement and radiating outwards from the centre are a Genesis, a Life of Joseph, a Life of the Virgin and a Life of St John the Baptist.
Opening hours :
- 11.15am-7pm, Sun, 1st Sat of every month and Bank Hols 8.30am-2pm (last admission 30min before closing) - closed 1 Jan, Easter, 8 Sep, 25 Dec
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