Date Thesis Awarded

4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Art and Art History

Advisor

Catherine Levesque

Committee Member

Monica Potkay

Committee Member

Cristina Stancioiu

Abstract

The three bronze doors of the Baptistery of San Giovanni stand as public expressions of Florence’s imperial history, economic stability, and artistic advances. These commissions can only be understood in their physical context within the Baptistery, the city’s most revered monument. The Baptistery testifies to Florence’s imperial Roman and early Christian history, and it serves vital religious and civic functions within the commune. Each bronze door guards the liminal space between the city’s public sphere and the sacred interior where the baptismal ritual is performed. The bronze medium and the narrative style of the doors further associate Florence with Rome, as well as advertise the commune’s economic stability. Artists Andrea Pisano, the creator of the earliest door, and Lorenzo Ghiberti, the creator of the two later doors, successfully express Florence’s preeminence through their narrative and stylistic approaches. Each artist develops innovative spatial techniques that allow him to create complex narratives. The artistic advancement evidenced by these doors reaffirms Florence’s place among the leading cities of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

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