Baptistry

The Baptistry of St. John
(Battistero di San Giovanni)

Built on the ruins of a 1st century Roman structure (in the 4th-5th c.), the octagonal Baptistry
is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It has been the center of the religious life in Florence
since the earliest days of the Christian cult in the city. The original baptistry was altered in the
reign of Teodolinda, Queen of the Lombards (570-628), and it was modified several other
times over the centuries. In the early days, the Baptistry was the city’s second Basilica.

The Baptistry was reconstructed over a 70 year period beginning in 1059, with marble
from ancient Roman structures and from Fiesole, and was rededicated upon completion
in 1128. The octagonal lantern on the roof was added in the middle of the 12th c., in 1202 a
rectangular apse was added, and the marble floor was laid in 1209. The mosaics of the apse
followed this construction, beginning in 1225, and the mosaics in the dome (images are below)
were executed between 1270 and 1300. Andrea Pisano’s South Doors were created in 1336,
and in 1401 a competition was held (won by the young Lorenzo Ghiberti) to create another
set of bronze doors. The creation of Ghiberti’s first set of doors is often used as the
starting point of the Renaissance, and upon completion in 1424, Ghiberti was
given a new commission to construct what would become what many
experts consider the crowning achievement of the Renaissance:

The Gates of Paradise, by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
 

These are almost all large file sizes, especially the mosaics.
I have included pixel dimensions and file sizes for nearly all images.

Click an image to open a larger version
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The South Doors (Pisano)

The Gates of Paradise (Ghiberti)

The Baptistry Interior

Tomb of Antipope John XXIII (Donatello)

Baptismal Font (Pisano)

13th c. Mosaics

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Florentine Baptistry:

Florentine Churches: The Baptistry

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).

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There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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Baptistry_Duomo_Florence_4007c


Duomo Florence 4007c
960 x 1290 (557 KB)

South Door (Pisano) and Danti’s “Beheading of St. John the Baptist”.
Shot from the entrance to the Piazza San Giovanni, this image shows
 the spatial relationships between the Baptistry (left), and the Duomo.

Capped by an octagonal dome which is covered by an pyramidal roof,
the Baptistry is covered in white Carrara and green Prado marble in a
geometric pattern of rectangles, squares, arched rectangles and stripes.
An alternating set of gabled and arched windows are set into blind arches
in the center section of the building, all in groups of three. This visually striking
design served as a prototype for other Romanesque churches throughout
Tuscany. The marble decoration was all at the expense of the cloth
importing guild, the principal guild in medieval Florence.

The Baptistry is famous for its bronze doors,
two of which are detailed below.

Beheading_JohnBaptist_SouthDoors_4016


Beheading John the Baptist South Doors 4016
795 x 1290 (376 KB)

Vincenzo Danti’s masterwork, detailed further below.

SouthDoors_4019_detail


South Doors 4019 detail
1065 x 1290 (474 KB)

Giotto recommended Andrea Pisano (1290-1348)
for the commission to build the first set of bronze doors,
 originally installed at the East (main) entrance, now on the
South side of the Baptistry. His design departed from the
ornate embellishments of traditional Gothic, displaying a
set of 28 quatrefoil panels in a simplistic style predating
the Renaissance. The upper 20 panels depict scenes
from the life of John the Baptist, and the lower eight
house figures of the eight Virtues. Built in 1330-36.

SouthDoor_detail

At left, a detail crop for the purposes
of illustration (no linked image).

Andrea Pisano’s design has each panel displayed in a crennelated square. The quatrefoil Gothic compass is raised, arched and outlined with a scooped beveled edge in a double ogee similar to an ornate frame edge. The points of the quatrefoil enter the crennelation and the left and right sides of the rounded portion of the quatrefoil touch the crennelation. All available space in each square is used, but the space within is not crowded... Pisano used negative space around his figures to increase the dimensional character of the relief.

The simple figures Pisano used avoided the stylized draped garments and exaggerated poses typical of the late Gothic, in favor of a presentation which kept expressions and positions minimized to avoid cluttered compositions. This concept predated the style which would be characteristic of the upcoming Renaissance that would begin with Ghiberti’s doors (which would replace Pisano’s in the position of honor at the East entrance to the Baptistry, across from the Cathedral).

Lorenzo Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise”
will be detailed a little further down the page.

Lintel_SouthBaptistryDoor_5975c


Lintel South Baptistry Door 5975c

Detail of the lintel over the South door, shot as the early morning sun hit the Baptistry
on the only clear morning I was in Florence. The highly figured reliefs in the door frame
were created by Vittorio Ghiberti in the style used in his father’s “Gates of Paradise”,
and were added when the doors were moved in 1452 to be replaced by the Gates.

Beheading_JohnBaptist_VincenzoDanti_4022


Beheading John the Baptist Vincenzo Danti 4022
1500 x 1290 (533 KB)

I am providing three close shots of Vincenzo Danti’s masterwork,
each image taken from a different angle and in radically different light
(this image was taken on a dark and dreary, heavily overcast afternoon).

Danti’s most famous work, these three sculptures (produced in 1569-71) are
mounted above Pisano’s south doors. The sculpture group was produced in the
Mannerist style, with elongated limbs and bodies (especially on Salome to the left),
and unusual folds in the draped clothing. The poses used were quite elegant.

Salome (on the left) is leaning slightly back with her hand raised as if
to block the upcoming torrent of blood. The Baptist is kneeling
with his hands clasped in prayer, waiting for the sword of
the executioner on the right, who is poised to swing.

Beheading_JohnBaptist_VincenzoDanti_5965


Beheading John the Baptist Vincenzo Danti 5965
1350 x 1056 (494 KB)

This image, shot from directly in front of the South Doors, was taken on the only clear morning
I had in Florence, just as the light was getting sweet. Below is the image taken at the “Golden Minute”.

Beheading_JohnBaptist_VincenzoDanti_5974


Beheading John the Baptist Vincenzo Danti 5974
1500 x 1155 (614 KB)

Shot from about 20 steps further back than the previous image, this was taken
at the peak of the short period when the golden rays of morning strike the south face.

Gates_ofParadise_4226


Gates of Paradise 4226

Shot on one of the dark and drizzly afternoons, this image shows the Baptistry’s east side, with the Gates of Paradise flanked by the two (broken) columns of porphyry donated by the people of Pisa in gratitude for military assistance in their battle against Lucca while the Pisan fleet was in the Balearic Isles in 1114. These were plundered by the Pisans in Majorca, and were delivered broken, annoying the Florentines, who held a grudge against Pisa for centuries. Above the Gates is Andrea Sansovino’s “The Baptism of Christ” (1502), consisting of the two statues of Christ and the Baptist, which Sansovino left uncompleted when he went to Rome on a commission for Pope Julius II. The sculptures were completed by Vincenzo Danti in 1569, and the Angel was added in 1792 by Inncenzo Spinazzi).

Florentine_Gates_of_Paradise_textblock_1200P


Florentine Gates of Paradise textblock 1200P

A 1200 pixel (50% reduction) of the textblock from
the full-sized composite (preview version shown below).
The link will open in a second window (or tab), so you can
open it along with the composite below and use it to identify
the various panels shown in the composite. This image
is here because the preview version of the composite
is reduced to 21% of the full-sized version, making
the descriptive text panel too small to read.

Below the composite are individual images.

Now, the ultimate expression of Renaissance
gilded bronze casting: “The Gates of Paradise”.

Florentine_Gates_of_Paradise


Florentine Gates of Paradise
1500 x 1206 (671 KB)

Composite will open in a second window.

Available as an SXXL composite (7101 x 5708)

The upper three images were taken late one dark and wet afternoon, the day before the rest of the shots.
The differences in color and saturation are due to the light on the two days (the rest were taken the
next morning). Individual images and detail on the doors and Lorenzo Ghiberti follow below.

LorenzoGhiberti_Gates_ofParadise


Lorenzo Ghiberti Gates of Paradise
(no linked image — see image 4255 below)

Born the son of a goldsmith and trained as one, 23 year old Lorenzo Ghiberti won the 1401 competition for the bronze North doors for the Baptistry (the second set of bronze doors created after Pisano’s, beating out Filippo Brunelleschi, who was second. He reinvented the art of lost-wax bronze casting as used by the ancient Romans, so young artists flocked to his workshop. He spent 21 years creating the 28-panel doors, and when they were complete he was offered a commission to produce yet another set of doors with scenes from the Old Testament. Instead of producing another set of 28 panels, he made a much more naturalistic set of 10 scenes using a totally different style, including an early use of geometric perspective. Many years later, Michelangelo dubbed these the ”Gates of Paradise”. They have since become known as a defining masterpiece of the Renaissance.

Ghiberti’s original North doors were hailed as the most important event in the history of Florentine art in the first quarter of the 15th century (Paolucci). Ghiberti was given numerous commissions by influential patrons, including the Pope. In 1425, he was offered a commission for the East Doors of the Baptistry, and these (after 27 years of work) were the ones Michelangelo called the “Gates of Paradise” when he saw them. They employ the principle of perspective and multi-level relief to create a sense of space, and they are very lifelike. Ghiberti also used the different levels of relief to break the scenes up so a single panel could represent more than one scene at a time... a unique presentation. More than 50 scenes are represented on the 10 panels. Ghiberti owed the multi-level relief technique to the style originally developed by Donatello, who was the first to develop the finely etched low-level relief, and blend it with medium and high relief in a single artwork.

Giorgio Vasari said a century later

“... undeniably perfect in every way and must
rank as the finest masterpiece ever created”.

Prophet_StoryofJoseph_4258c


Prophet Story of Joseph 4258c
569 x 1250 (415 KB)

Noah_Abraham_Joseph_Isaac_4255


Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Isaac 4255
1500 x 1140 (667 KB)

This image shows a complete four-panel section of the door with the surrounding reliefs.
The panels depicted (clockwise from the upper left) are: The Story of Noah;
The Angels inform Abraham of the impending birth of Isaac;
The Story of Joseph; and the Story of Isaac.

Each of the ten panels are 80cm x 80cm (31.5 in. x 31.5 in.)
(not counting some protruding elements in some panels)

Story_ofJoseph_4258


Story of Joseph 4258
1500 x 1065 (671 KB)

The story of Joseph, betrayed by his brothers, who later becomes their savior and
rescues the entire community is also an allegory to the story of the expulsion of
Cosimo de’ Medici, who was exiled from Florence temporarily, then returned
to the city to reawaken a new era pf prosperity. Cosimo was very pleased.

The scenes presented in the Story of Joseph are:
Joseph is Cast by his Brothers into the Well; Joseph is Sold to the Merchants;
The Merchants Delivering Joseph to the Pharoah; Joseph Interprets the Pharaoh’s Dream;
The Pharaoh Paying Joseph Honor; Jacob Sends his Sons to Egypt;
Joseph Recognizes his Brothers and Returns Home.

Story_of_Isaac_4259


Story of Isaac 4259
1500 x 1200 (642 KB)

The receding tiles of the floor in the Story of Joseph and the Story of Isaac illustrate the newly
developed technique of geometric linear perspective as demonstrated by Brunelleschi in 1425.
The arches and pilasters were inspired by Roman architecture as interpreted by Brunelleschi.

This panel depicts the story of Isaac, Esau and Jacob.
Foreground left:  Women attending the birth of Isaac and Esau; Left center: Isaac sending Esau on the Hunt;
Foreground right:  Jacob is receiving Isaac’s blessing, while Rebecca (the conspirator) is standing behind them;
Background:  Left: Rebecca in labor; Center: Esau and his Bow; Rebecca speaks with Jacob; Right: Esau on the Hunt.

Note the self-portrait of Lorenzo Ghiberti at the bottom right in this image.

Characters_Gates_of_Paradise


Characters Gates of Paradise
1600 x 1200 (772 KB)

Prophets and other characters from the frame panels surrounding the 10 main panels.

Moses_TenCommandments_4200


Moses Ten Commandments 4200
1482 x 1290 (857 KB)

Moses Receiving the Ten Commandments. Note the use of perspective and progressively reduced
relief in the representation of the tents on the left, and the different expressions on the people’s faces.

Fall_ofJericho_4194


Fall of Jericho 4194
(The Story of Joshua)
1500 x 1200 (863 KB)

Joshua is on a chariot, preceded by the Ark of the Covenant; right: the carrying of the Stones.
Center: another set of vanishing tents; background (top): the City of Jericho and the Priests with Trumpets.

David_BeheadingGoliath_4206


David Beheading Goliath 4206
1500 x 1202 (757 KB)

David is in the process of severing the head of Goliath in the foreground, using Goliath’s own sword.
Saul is standing in a chariot at left, but what I find interesting are the two fellows at the far left commenting on
David’s technique, and the image in the far background (top) with David presenting the head (seemingly to a lady).

Gates_of_Paradise

The Gates of Paradise
by Lorenzo Ghiberti

1177 x 1765 (885 KB)

The shot shown at left is an image which I repaired.
(this image is displayed for personal use only).

It shows the entire East Door of the Baptistry.

The image will open in a second window or tab.

— No version of this image is available for sale. —

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Florentine Baptistry:

Florentine Churches: The Baptistry

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).

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There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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StJohn_Baptist_FlorenceBaptistry_5061


St. John the Baptist Florence Baptistry 5061
817 x 1290 (316 KB)

St. John the Baptist

Sculpted by Giuseppe Piamontini (c. 1688)
Donated to the Baptistry by Cosimo III de’ Medici

According to legend, the building that became the Baptistry was originally a temple to Mars (the statue of Mars which stood on the Ponte Vecchio until the 1333 Arno flood used to reside in the temple). However, 20th c. excavations showed that a Roman wall ran through the Piazza, thus there could not have been a temple there. An octagonal baptistry was built on the site in the late 4th or early 5th century, and that was replaced (or altered) by another which was built in the 6th c. Regardless of the actual origin, the original structure was a very early Christian edifice.

After the Florentine conversion to Christianity, but definitely by the time of the Lombard (Germanic tribes of Scandinavian origin) domination of Italy (568-774), John the Baptist became the protector and patron saint of the city. The Baptistry was therefore dedicated to San Giovanni (St. John).


Giuseppe Piamontini (1664-1742) was a Florentine sculptor, who began his career in Foggini’s studio in Florence. He created beautiful works in bronze as well as in marble. Some of his “disappeared masterpieces” resurfaced recently and each fetched over a million pounds sterling at auction. His work is superb, but he is difficult to find any information on. He produced some early work for Cosimo III de’ Medici (such as this sculpture and some roundels in glazed terracotta) but other than that he is a mystery.

Tomb_AntipopeJohnXXIII_Donatello_5024


Tomb Antipope John XXIII Donatello 5024

Tomb_AntipopeJohnXXIII_Donatello_5024c1


Tomb Antipope John XXIII Donatello 5024 c1

A 1022 x 1300 detail crop (376 KB)

The tomb of Antipope John XXIII, executed in marble and
bronze by Donatello (Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi)
and Michelozzo (Michelozzo di Bartolomeo Michelozzi).

Tomb_AntipopeJohnXXIII_Donatello_5024c2


Tomb Antipope John XXIII Donatello 5024 c2
1500 x 1092 detail crop (476 KB)

The last tomb of a Pope outside of Rome, and at 24 feet it was the tallest sculpture in Florence
at the time it was built (the 1420s). It was one of the earliest Renaissance masterpieces in sculpture.

A groundbreaking work of art in many respects, this was the first collaboration for Donatello and Michelozzo.
While it is somewhat typical of the highest level of medieval Italian wall tombs, with several elements stacked
atop each other and a life-size effigy, it is the first to use a baldachin (canopy). Other than the effigy, all other
figures on the tomb are executed in high relief. The base is decorated with winged angel heads, garlands
and ribbons. Above the base are the Three Virtues (Faith, Charity and Hope) in shell niches, separated
by fluted Corinthian pilasters (shallow decorative pillars). Their style is antique even for the time... and
was likely influenced by Donatello’s long period of study of ancient sculptures in Rome. On our left,
Faith is holding a Chalice, Charity (center) is holding a Cornucopia and a brazier, and Hope has
her hands clasped in prayer. Note the clothing chosen for Charity, a notably more ancient style.

Above the Virtues is a classically-inspired four-column console supporting the sarcophagus,
with Cossa’s family arms with papal tiara, the papal coat of arms (the crossed keys), and
 Cossa’s arms with the cardinal’s hat. They are a bit hard to see due to the placement
of the tomb in the Baptistry. It is in between two large pillars (Corinthian columns,
ancient Roman, probably from the forum at today’s Piazza della Reppublica),
and it is across from Ghiberti’s East Doors. When they are closed (often),
there is very little light other than the small spot you can see. Suffice
 it to say that I was not at all surprised when I walked in. European
churches are very dark, and no tripods or flashes are allowed.
 I had brought very fast lenses and used my best museum
holding techniques, and I underexposed by 1.67 stops
to bring the shutter speed up, but it was still only a
1/25 sec. handheld at f/1.4. Quite a difficult shot.

The putti (with crossed legs) holding the parchment below the sarcophagus
 are executed in a very shallow bas-relief style pioneered by Donatello called
rilievo schiacciato. Check the Santa Croce page for Donatello’s Annunciation
to see another fine example of this style used in some of the background details.

The sarcophagus itself is supported by lions, symbolizing Florentine support for his papacy.
The bier supporting the effigy is tilted towards the viewer, making the effigy easier to see.
The effigy is gilded bronze (the bier is ungilded). The effigy is dressed as a cardinal.
The tomb was opened in the 16th c., and it was confirmed that Cossa was buried
in the same clothes shown on the effigy. Above and behind the effigy is a half-
lunette (shell-shaped) with a classically-inspired Doric entablature with the
Madonna and Child below and between the folds of the canopy curtains.
The canopy itself was likely intended as a papal baldacchino, but this
was (and still is) a controversial subject for several reasons. Cossa
did not die as Pope, and many of the elements of this tomb annoyed
his successor (Martin V) fiercely, plus scholars disagree on the subject
of the canopy, with some saying it represents a baldachin and others a more
common secular bed-canopy. Considering the symbolism throughout this tomb
and both Donatello’s and the Medici’s interest and support for he Antipope’s claim
to the papacy, I personally think that it is more likely that it is intended as a baldacchino.

BaptistryAltar_5037


Baptistry Altar 5037
1500 x 1065 (446 KB)

Romanesque marble altar, reconstructed in the 13th c.

BaptistryAltar_5040_detail


Baptistry Altar 5040 detail
1350 x 1080 (411 KB)

FlorenceBaptismalFont_Pisano_5042


Florence Baptismal Font Pisano 5042
1500 x 1092 (492 KB)

Sitting atop the octagonal base of the original font, which was installed from the church of
St. Reparata in 1128, is this smaller font, installed in 1576 for the christening of the expected
male heir of Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici by Bernardo Buontalenti. He demolished the
original font when removing it at the orders of the Grand Duke, and it was lost for hundreds
of years. The original marble font was found in pieces in 1907, in the attic of he Baptistry.
This font, which is much older than the installation date of 1576, has reliefs attributed to
Andrea Pisano, who built the South Doors in 1330 (shown at the top of this page).

FlorenceBaptismalFont_Pisano_detail_5041c


Florence Baptismal Font Pisano detail 5041c
1452 x 1250 (443 KB)

Detail of the 14th century reliefs on the Baptismal Font, attributed to Andrea Pisano.

BaptistryMatroneum_detail_5063


Baptistry Matroneum detail 5063
1500 x 1026 (558 KB)

In Paleo-Christian and early Romanesque churches, there was a second-floor section reserved
 especially for the women (thus the name “matroneum”, derived from Matron). Separated from
the nave by a gallery, the ceiling of the Matroneum has a covering of 13th century mosaics.

BaptistryMatroneum_detail_5066


Baptistry Matroneum detail 5066
1311 x 1038 (586 KB)

In this image, I clipped the columns out allowing for larger mosaic
sections with a similar file size... allowing you to examine more detail.

Continue below for many more of the 13th c. mosaics.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Florentine Baptistry:

Florentine Churches: The Baptistry

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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Baptistry_ApseArch_5020


Baptistry Apse Arch 5020
1500 x 1065 (665 KB)

The first mosaics done in the Baptistry in 1225 were on the arched vault over the Altar in the Apse.
This is the entire vault, depicting a mosaic wheel with images of the Prophets, surrounding the Agnus Dei.
The Wheel is supported by four Caryatids kneeling on Corinthian columns.

Detailed images of the central section follow below.

Baptistry_ArchMosaic_5068


Baptistry Arch Mosaic 5068
1500 x 1065 (812 KB)

The central section of the wheel, rotated for display purposes.
I have placed a large image of the Agnus Dei below, right-side up.

Note the file sizes, in bold type, for the mosaics. These are large files,
especially the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) just below at over a megabyte.

These mosaics were all done using the older Roman and Greek method of
emplacing tesserae (colored glass and stones) in patterns based on a cartoon
drawn by the master artist. The result is a static image with limited capabilities for
creating expressions. Later in the 13th century, a new method was developed by
Cimabue that would get its first major application on the ceiling of the Baptistry.

AgnusDei_detail_5068c


Agnus Dei detail 5068c
1500 x 1290 (1136 KB)

This is a very detailed image (1MB+).
The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) in the center of the wheel.

Baptistry_ApseArchMosaic_detail_5067


Baptistry Apse Arch Mosaic detail 5067
1500 x 1110 (912 KB)

Detail of some of the Prophets and supporting Angels. Note the unusual facial colors.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5008


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5008
1500 x 1065 (975 KB)

The Dome Mosaics
(1270-1300)

Detail of the Choirs of Angels section:
Virtues; Thrones; Dominations; Powers and Attributes.
The top three are Archangels, Angels and Dominions.

The ceiling mosaics were created by a number of artists from Venice, including the most
 renowned artist of his time, Cimabue (Benvenuto di Giuseppe, 1240-1302), the first of the
 Italian artists to break with the old Byzantine traditional style. The master who trained Giotto,
who was the first of the Renaissance painters, Cimabue also was responsible for creating
a new method of applying the tesserae (colored glass or stone, in this case with gold leaf
embedded in some of the materials). This new method was applied near the end of the
cycle of mosaics on the ceiling. The large central figure of Jesus was done in the old
method, but as an example, the figures of the Damned in Hell were done with the
newer method developed by the Workshop of Cimabue, as were some of the
other figures which were applied to the ceiling later. Detail to follow below.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5008c


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5008c
1617 x 775 (705 KB)

Detail of the center three sections of the Choirs of Angels.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5014


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5014
1500 x 1065 (903 KB)

From top (below the lantern embellishment):
Choirs of Angels; Stories from the Book of Genesis;
Stories of Joseph; Stories of Mary and Christ.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5011


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5011
1344 x 1125 (794 KB)

A 5 x 4 detail crop from the center and left side, showing each section in larger detail.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5018


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5018
1500 x 1065 (874 KB)

The Last Judgement section, with cartoons by Coppo di Marcovaldo (1225-1276).
Note the shape of the feet of Christ the Judge. This is one of the sections where the
new method of applying the tesserae was first seen. Christ and many of the figures
in the upper levels were done in the old method. In the new method, Cimabue and
his assistants applied the tesserae to a cartooned panel, then soaked a heavy
canvas with glue and laid it out on the tesserae. This canvas was then rolled
up and carried aloft and laid out on a wet coat of plaster. When the plaster
was dry, the canvas would be soaked to soften the glue, then removed.
The tesserae would be left behind, embedded in the plaster. This
method results in a much more fluid look, with more options for
expression and more of the character of a painting. See
the rotated detail crop of the area shown below.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5006rc


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5006rc
1314 x 1036 (678 KB)

The lower right side of the Last Judgement section, with the
Damned in Hell at the bottom. I rotated this to make it easier to see.

You can easily see an evolution in style from the obviously Byzantine Angels
at the top, to the more naturalistic but still old-style judges in the middle, and
finally the totally fluid characters at the bottom, with smooth shading which is
especially noticeable on the head of the snake just behind the devil’s knee.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5015


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5015
1200 x 1065 (822 KB)

Detail of Christ the Judge, with people exiting their tombs into heaven on his right,
and the Damned exiting their tombs into hell on his left (our right). Note the shape of his feet.
The golden striations on the clothing of Christ are an innovation introduced by Coppo di Marcovaldo.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5051


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5051
1359 x 993 (835 KB)

Closer detail. You are beginning to be able to see the golden tesserae
in the background. Note the unusually-shaped hands and neck.

BaptistryCeiling_detail_5050


Baptistry Ceiling detail 5050
960 x 1275 (873 KB)

A close detail crop. Now you can easily see the fine detail
used by the artist to create the shading and expression.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Florence Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

Direct Link to the Gallery with images of the Florentine Baptistry:

Florentine Churches: The Baptistry

There are a number of images in this section that are not yet on the Photoshelter site.
If an image you want is not yet uploaded, contact Ron Reznick (info at bottom of page).

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There are 11 Galleries in the Photoshelter Florence Collection

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