GHIBERTI, Lorenzo
(b. 1378, Firenze, d. 1455, Firenze)

The Flagellation

1403-24
Gilded bronze, 52 x 45 cm (inside molding)
Baptistry, Florence

This is one of the 20 scenes from the life of Christ depicted on the north doors of the Baptistry.

In the Flagellation of Christ, Ghiberti placed his figures against a simple arcaded porch fronted by a double row of Corinthian columns, the second set barely emerging from the back of the relief and yet creating an illusionistic space that is deep enough to accommodate the projecting hand and foot of the helmeted figure at the left. The architecture also establishes a regular internal order within the outer quatrefoil frame and allows a more focused view of the subject - quite different from the Adoration of Magi where the figures and setting occupy much of the complicated geometrical field in which they are placed.

The colonnade, however, is only a background for the interaction of the figures. Christ's supple body continues the new classical tradition Ghiberti had established in his Isaac. With twisting movements, the men whipping Christ raise their now missing weapons and carry the eye up into the rhythmic pattern of the quatrefoil.