ANTELAMI, Benedetto
(active 1170-1230 in Parma)

The Virgin and Child

Baptistery, Parma

The main surviving monument by Antelami is the Baptistery at Parma. This is a massive octogonal building, not in the least Gothic in its general appearence, although the interior is roofed with a ribbed vault. Whether Antelami designed it is not certain, but he was certainly responsible for the portals, since it is on one of these that his name appears. These portals are for their date unique in Italy in that they describe an ambitious and coherent iconographic programme. This prompts comparison with France, for it was only in France that such thought had been given to the programmatic content of the church portal.

Two of the three portals are devoted to subjects familiar from France - the Virgin and the Last Judgment. However, the architectural layout can be derived not from France but from previous north Italian sources. The style of the sculpture is entirely that of the area, the figures being solid with rather large round heads. There are no column figures.