Friday, September 7, 2007

The Baptistry and the East Doors

In front of the Duomo, is the Baptistry, one of Florence’s oldest buildings. It dates back to the 4th century! In the 13th century, mosaics illustrating the Last Judgment were placed in the ceiling above the octagonal front, where many famous Florentines, including Dante, were baptized.

The east doors of the Baptistry are made of bronze and are very famous. The doors were commissioned in 1401 to mark the city’s deliverance from the plague and were created by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Ghiberti won a competition which involved seven leading artists, including Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia, and Brunelleschi. These doors are often regarded as the first works of the Renaissance because they are so different from Florentine Gothic art of the time, particularly in perspective and the individual figures in the panels.

The actual doors on the Baptistry today are copies, and the originals are in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. Michelangelo called the doors the, "Gate of Paradise", and the name is still used today.

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