Term Paper: Florence Baptistery North Doors Lorenzo

Pages: 6 (2130 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Architecture  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] The steps leading up to the doorway are also in the form of semi-ovals and echo the rhythms of the flanking walls, which are concave in form. There is thus an interplay of concave and convex elements which express the oval plan of the interior and create a focus upon the doorway itself and the formal axis of the church to which it gives access. Above the porch is a great semicircular window framed by a deep entablature. The door itself is framed by a portico of a great triangular pediment supported by Corinthian columns.

The entrance to Sant' Andrea provides some interesting points of contrast to the doorway to the Florence Baptistery discussed earlier in this paper. The circumstances of the creation of each structure were very different; in the case of Florence, Ghiberti was adding doors to a structure that already existed, whereas in the case of Sant' Andrea the entire building was designed as a whole by Bernini. As a result the entrance to the latter is both an integrated element of the entire design and a focal point of the conception of the building, while the former takes its place as one element among several and is so formed as to exist in a relationship of balanced harmony with the rest of the structure. Furthermore, the Baptistery was then believed to be an ancient Roman structure, making adherence to the ideals of classicism all the more important. The very different spirit of the baroque architecture within which Bernini was working, compared to the gothic and renaissance styles of Ghiberti, is also very clear in the free use of form and space - and above all in the deployment of ovals and curves - in Bernini's scheme. Ghiberti's north doors are part of one doorway among three, giving entrance to a symmetrical building form, whereas Bernini's church has just one main entrance that is located on the central axis of a building planned with a very clear focus; the main axis leads from the entrance directly to the high altar, which itself uses the curving masses and forms of the entrance porch to echo and develop its own architectural scheme.

The doorway as a whole expresses very powerfully a sense of the sacred space of the church; it is not merely an entrance but a portal through which the divine can be accessed. By mounting the steps and passing beneath the portico and through the door itself, visitors to the church are transported from the realm of the mundane into the realm of the sacred. The architectural forms, sculpture, decoration and composition of the door and the porch are deployed to create this effect of transcendence and sacredness. In this respect, Bernini's work is very different from the urbane, harmonious, classically-inspired civic humanist architecture of Ghiberti's work at the Florence Baptistery.

Baroque architecture relies on dynamic uses of space, fluid forms and compositions, and the dramatic employment of light; it is an architecture of drama and expression. The architecture of Renaissance classicism, by contrast, relies on harmony, balance, and a structured hierarchy of forms. Both Bernini and Ghiberti were expressive and highly individual artists, but the contexts within which each worked - not only architectural, but social, political and economic - were shaped by these overall characteristics. The results can be seen in the very different styles of work exemplified in Ghiberti's Florence and Bernini's Rome.


Blaser, Werner, and Stucky, Monica. Drawings of Great Buildings. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983.

Curl, James Stevens, Classical Architecture. New York W.W. Norton, 2002.

Fletcher, Sir Banister, Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture. 20th edn., London: RIBA/University of London, 1996.

Kostof, Spiro. A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Nervi, Pier… [END OF PREVIEW]

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