Elegant Padova -- known in English as Padua -- is home to an ancient university, a Basilica that is an important centre for pilgrims and a chapel containing one of the world’s greatest art treasures. Use this website to help you plan a visit to this fascinating northern Italian city and find your way to the other beautiful towns and villages in the Veneto that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Baptistery in Padua

Dazzling fresco cycle has survived nearly 700 years

Standing next to the Duomo in Piazza Duomo, Padua’s Baptistery (Battistero) is a superb example of Romanesque architecture.

The original building was constructed in the 12th century but it was modified in about 1370 to become a memorial chapel for Francesco il Vecchio di Carrara and his wife, Fina Buzzacarini.
The 14th century Baptistery is to the right of the Duomo

The couple invited the artist Giusto de’ Menabuoi to fresco the interior with pictures representing stories from the Bible.

De’ Menabuoi, who was originally from Florence, worked on the interior of the Baptistery between 1376 and 1378. His frescos are remarkable for the brilliance of the colours he used and the details from the Bible he brings to life.

To understand the cycle of pictures you should ideally stand near the old entrance to the Baptistery, which was sealed up when the building was modified. Traces of it can be seen in the structure of arches.

The cycle begins in the cupola with Paradise and finishes in the apse with the Apocalypse. There are 37 episodes from Genesis that lead on in sequence to the 43 scenes from the last book of the New Testament.

In the centre of the apse, on a small marble altar, is a Polyptych, also by De’ Menabuoi, featuring the Madonna and Child, with a picture of the Baptism of Christ above it, while on either side are panels depicting the stories of the Saints.

In the panel showing Christ healing the sick, look out for a figure in a red headdress, which is believed to be a portrait of the poet Petrarch, who died shortly before the frescos were painted.

Venetian soldiers damaged the Cararra family’s grand burial monuments in 1405 and daubed green paint on the emblems of Francesco il Vecchio, but restoration work was carried out on the Baptistery in the 20th century.

Visitors to the Baptistery can see how the Duomo would have looked in the 14th century, before its 16th century makeover, as it appears in De’ Menabuoi’s frescos.

The Baptistery is open from 10 am to 6 pm every day.

No comments:

Post a Comment