Frescoes in the Baptistery, Padua (c. 1378)
by GIUSTO de' Menabuoi

The baptistery, located at the northeast corner of Padua Cathedral, was built during the second half of the thirteenth century alongside the Romanesque predecessor of the present cathedral. It is a building with principal axes of the same length on a square plan, having cupola on a circular drum and an adjoining chancel on the east. The decoration of the interior was initiated by Fina di Pataro Buzzacarini, the wife of Francesco I da Carrara, known as Francesco il Vecchio, the lord of Padua from 1350 to 1388. She died in 1378 and was buried in the baptistery. Giusto de' Menabuoi, a native of Florence but active in northern Italy, was entrusted with the decoration which probably began after the death of the donor.

The pictorial program of the frescoes, which cover the entire interior, is subdivided into several sections: Paradise in the upper segment of the vault, scenes from the Genesis in the window zone below that, the evangelists in the spandrels, the story of John the Baptist and the life of Christ on the four walls of the main space, and finally the Miracle of Pentecost and a number of motifs from the Apocalypse on the east side of the adjacent chancel.

The dominant accent is the fresco in the dome of the cupola, its theme - Paradise depicted as a heavenly retinue assembled around Christ - had been a recurring subject of fourteenth-century frescoes. It probably reflected the effect that Dante's Divine Comedy had on its contemporaries. Giusto's narrative tone is predominantly solemn and ceremonial. His strength clearly did not extend to the depiction of dramatic events or variation in the action and expression of figures.

Preview Picture Data Info
View from the southwest
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


Paradise (dome frescoes)
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


Paradise
1375-76
Fresco
Baptistry, Padua


Paradise (detail)
1375-76
Fresco
Baptistry, Padua


The Creation of the World (detail of the dome fresco)
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


The Expulsion from Paradise(detail of the dome fresco)
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


St Luke between David and Jeremiah
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


Scenes from the Life of Christ (west wall)
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


Votive image (west wall)
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


Scenes from the Life of Christ (north wall)
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


The Wedding at Cana
1376-78
Fresco
Baptistry, Padua


The Baptism of Christ
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


The Birth of John the Baptist
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua


The Crucifixion
c. 1378
Fresco
Baptistery, Padua



Paintings by GIUSTO de' Menabuoi
Frescoes in the Baptistery, Padua (c. 1378)
Various paintings



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