Thursday, June 06, 2019

The Baptistery of Padua

The baptistery of Padua, Italy, was originally constructed in the 12th century, probably on the sight of an earlier structure, and after various modifications, was consecrated by the Patriarch of Grado in 1281. In 1370s, it was transformed into a mausoleum for the city’s ruler, Francesco da Carrara the Elder, and his wife, Fina Buzzaccarini, who commissioned the painter Giusto de’ Menabuoi (ca. 1320-91) to decorate the interior with frescoes; these were executed in 1375-76, and mostly survive in quite good condition. The centerpiece is a magnificent image of Paradise in the cupola, with Christ the Pantocrator in the middle, surrounded by countless Angels and Saints. The walls are covered with images of the lives of Christ, the Virgin Mary and St John the Baptist, including a large Crucifixion scene. The baptistery also has an altar in a recess, with the original altarpiece by Giusto; the walls surrounding it are decorated with scenes from the Apocalypse, and the small cupola above it shows the descent of the Holy Spirit.

A view of the cathedral, with its façade still not added after almost 470 years, and the baptistery to the right.
Image from Wikimedia Commons by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, CC BY-SA 4.0 
Interior view of the font, and the niche with the altar to the right.
The cupola, with Paradise in the center, and stories from the book of Genesis around the tambur.
Detail of the tambur, the Creation of the World.
St Luke the Evangelist, whose relics are in the church of St Justina in Padua, with the Prophets David and Jeremiah.
Scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and Christ on the west wall. Top rank: the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, the Annunciation and Visitation. In the middle left, the Massacre of the Innocents, middle right, Christ among the doctors. Lower left, the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem; lower right, the Last Supper. In the middle, a votive image of the Virgin and Child with Saints, and the kneeling figure of Fina Buzzaccarini; below, John the Baptist.
In the middle of the wall shown above is this votive image of the Virgin and Child with Saints, and the kneeling figure of Fina Buzzaccarini.
On the north wall, images of the life of Christ. Top: the Nativity, Epiphany and Presentation; middle; the Calling of Ss Peter and Andrew, the Calling of St Matthew and the Wedding at Cana; below: the Agony in the Garden, the Arrest of Christ, and His Trial.
The Crucifixion
The Baptism of Christ
The birth of the Baptist
The altarpiece
Image from Wikimedia Commons by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, CC BY-SA 4.0 
The descent of the Holy Spirit in the small cupola over the altar.
Images from the Apocalypse: St John vision of the seven candlesticks (chapter 1, 9-19)
St John eats the scroll at the instruction of an angel. (chapter 10, 9-11)
The Adoration of the Lamb (chapter 14, 1-5)
The heavenly Jerusalem. (chapter 21)

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: