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Florence - the Baptistery

Battistero di San Giovanni - c600


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One of the oldest buildings in Florence, the Baptistery dates from C600 and was clad in green and white marble in the 10 / 11 hundreds.

The South door (1336) is by Andrea Pisano, the North door (1403 - 24) is by Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378 - 1455 (77)), who then spent most of the rest of his life (1425 - 52) on his masterpiece, the East door (that's Ghiberti on the right, and the doors are on the right of the above photo) - called by Michelangelo "The Gates of Paradise" (with the original panels now to be found in the nearby Cathedral Museum). 


Inside, the  dazzling and distinctively Byzantine mosaic ceiling was completed by Venetian artists in the 12 hundreds, and an unexpected bonus is the team Donatello and Michelozzo tomb for the anti-Pope John XXIII (Baldassare Cossa 1370 - 1419 (49)).




The Wikipedia page on the Florence Baptistry includes good diagrams of the ceiling mosaics and the door panels.


The only tomb in the Baptistery is that of the Neapolitan Baldassare Cossa (1370 - 1419 (49))  - condottiere, lawyer, cardinal and latterly the "Antipope" John XXIII alongside no less than two rival Popes (one in Avignon, the other in Rome) and possibly the best known of the 50 odd anti-popes who have added spice to the Church of Rome over the centuries.  Most especially Cossa was friend to and giver of much monopoly church business to Giovanni di Bicci (who founded the Medici bank in 1397) and his son Cosimo.  The tomb, organized and paid for by the Medicis to say "thank you", was sculpted by Donatello (the figure of Cossa) and Michelozzo (the surrounding drapery and tabernacle).  Read the story of Cossa in the factional book "A Trembling Upon Rome" by Richard Condon.





The famous East Door of the Baptistery was made by Ghiberti between 1425 and 1452, though now the panels are replicas made from casts taken in 1948.


The original gilded bronze panels are gradually being restored and put on display in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.  This one depicts Joseph being sold into slavery.






Essau and Jacob, and in the bottom right a little head of the artist - Lorenzo Ghiberti


The fall of Jericho

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