One of the most iconic examples of 15th-century Sienese painting
The Baptistery of San Giovanni, located in the square of the same name, is flanked by the imposing staircase leading up to Piazza Jacopo della Quercia. It was built below the Sienese cathedral, most likely by master builder Camaiano di crescentino, between 1316 and 1325. The Gothic facade features black and white marble matching the cathedral.
Inside the space is divided into three naves and its completely frescoed rooms are one of the most spectacular examples of 15th-century Sienese painting. The vaults painted by Lorenzo di Pietro known as ‘Il Vecchietta’ between 1447 and 1450 depict the Articles of the Creed.
Once the frescoes on the vaults were completed, the artist continued the decoration of the apse, painting the Assumption of the Virgin in the Glory of Angels in the top area; and the Annunciation with scenes from the Passion next to it in the lower part. The rest of the apse was frescoed by Matteo Lambertini in 1447.
On the back wall of the left aisle, Benvenuto di Giovanni painted the Miracles of St. Anthony of Padua around 1460, while Pietro di Francesco degli Orioli frescoed the right lunette in 1489, depicting the Washing of the Feet.
The most important work preserved inside the Baptistery of San Giovanni is certainly the Baptismal Font, an extraordinary work in marble, bronze and enamel created between 1417 and 1431 by the greatest sculptors of the time, including Giovanni di Turino, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia.
The Baptismal Font consists of a hexagonal basin into which the six gilded bronze mirrors depicting the life of John the Baptist are set, punctuated by statues of virtue. The statues of Faith and Hope were sculpted by Donatello. Among the most iconic scenes, it’s worth mentioning the Baptism of Jesus by Lorenzo Ghiberti (1427), an elegant and refined scene that stands out for its pictorialism and sense of perspective achieved through the ‘stiacciato’ technique. The series concludes with the famous relief by Donatello from 1427 depicting the Banquet of Herod, the most moving scene for the dramatic nature of its subject and its formal qualities.
BAPTISTERY OPENING HOURS
Until 31 March 2022: 10:30 – 17:30
01 April – 31 October 2022: 10:00 – 19:00
Last admission half an hour before museum closing time.
Times may vary due to religious events.