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

North Doors (Life of Christ)

Gilded bronze, height 506 cm
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence

The theme for Ghiberti's north doors of the Baptistery is the life of Christ in 20 scenes with the 8 lower panels containing the Evangelists and Fathers of the Church. As these doors were kept shut, except on feast days, the scenes read from the bottom accross both wings.

The first panels executed reveal that Ghiberti tried to harmonize his compositions with the Gothic quatrefoil. The slender, lyrical figures approximate those of International Gothic painters like Lorenzo Monaco and Gentile da Fabriano. Their draperies establish patterns of fluid elegance which contribute a rhythmic unity to the design. As his work progressed, his compositions became more complex and his forms began to fight with the quattrefoil. Since he included ever more ambitious architectural and geometrical elements, his compositions evolved towards the new rectilinear Renaissance format.

The decision partly to gild the doors was made in 1423 and they were hung in 1424.

The 20 scenes from the life of Christ are

  1. Annunciation
  2. Nativity
  3. Adoration of the Magi
  4. Dispute with the Doctors
  5. Baptism of Christ
  6. Temptation of Christ
  7. Chasing the merchants from the Temple
  8. Jesus walking on water and saving Peter
  9. Transfiguration
  10. Resurrection of Lazarus
  11. Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem
  12. Last Supper
  13. Agony in the Garden
  14. Christ captured
  15. Flagellation
  16. Jesus before Pilate
  17. Ascent to Calvary
  18. Crucifixion
  19. Resurrection
  20. Pentecost

The four Evangelists are

  • A. St John
  • B. St Matthew
  • C. St Luke
  • D. St Mark

The four Church Fathers are

  • E. St Ambrose
  • F. St Jerome
  • G. St Gregory
  • H. St Augustine

View the arrangement of the panels on the north doors of the Baptistery.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.