Among the things to see in Florence is the magnificent artistic heritage of the Baptistery. In this post I want to focus on the three Doors of the Baptistery of Florence, which hold the history of Italian sculpture, from the medieval period to Humanism. I will accompany you to discover their stories.
The Baptistery Doors of Florence: three masterpieces to admire
The Doors of the Baptistery of Florence are an extraordinary artistic treasure that recounts the history and excellence of Italian art. Located inside the majestic Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence, these works of art are an important testimony to the medieval period and the art of the 15th century.
Together, the three Baptistery of San Giovanni Doors constitute a work unparalleled in world art. Each door was created by one of the greatest artists of the time, and each tells a unique story through intricate sculptural panels and gilded tiles.
The oldest of the three Baptistery Doors in Florence was made between 1330 and 1336 by Andrea Pisano, a famous 14th-century sculptor. This bronze and gold giant depicts the life of Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of the Baptistery and the city of Florence.
Andrea Pisano, called the ‘master of doors’, left a significant artistic legacy, also contributing to the sculptural decoration of the Duomo of Florence Bell Tower, another Florentine masterpiece.
THE NORTH DOOR
Considered the work that opened the season of the Renaissance in Florence, the North Gate is the second of the three gates of the Baptistery. Also realised by Lorenzo Ghiberti between 1402 and 1424, it is an imposing work of art.
Lorenzo won a competition to obtain this prestigious commission, beating out leading rivals such as Filippo Brunelleschi, author of the famous Dome of Florence Cathedral. The door features 28 panels organised in the Gothic style, but Ghiberti’s work evolves from this style to Renaissance forms, testifying to the beginning of a new artistic era in Florence.
THE GATEWAY TO PARADISE
A unique spectacle awaits visitors in the Sala del Paradiso in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence. For the first time, the three Baptistery Doors, including the famous Gate of Paradise, are exhibited together. This bronze and gold masterpiece was created by Lorenzo Ghiberti, one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance.
Commissioned by the powerful Arte di Calimala in 1425, the Door of Paradise is a marvel of art and craftsmanship.
After a complex restoration that lasted 27 years, it has regained its former glory and can now be admired inside a specially designed large display case. The panels contain episodes from the Old Testament, and among them, a frieze with heads and figures of prophets and sibyls, including a self-portrait of the artist himself.
The three Doors of the Baptistery of Florence are authentic treasures of Italian art, bearing witness to the artistic excellence of different periods.
Thanks to careful restoration, we can admire these splendid works today as if they had just been created by their ingenious authors.
Art is a window to the past, a bridge between cultures and an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the future.