Friday, February 02, 2007

The Baptistry at Parma

Part of Dome at Parma Baptistry

Wall fresco at Parma Baptistry

One of the most beautiful and most important baptistries in Europe is that at Parma.

It was begun in 1196 by Benedetto Antelami (c. 1150 – c. 1230). Here, he made the lunettes of the three portals: on the outside portraying the Adoration of the Magi, the Last Judgement and an Allegory of Life, on the inside the Flight into Egypt, the Presentation at the Temple and David playing the Harp. Also on the inside can be seen personifications of the months and the seasons.

It is one of the most significantg Romanesque Gothic buildings in Europe. It is octagonal in shape and built from rose coloured marble from Verona. It has four stories surmounted by a series of arches and eight small steeples.

The last storey was added at the end of the thirteenth century and the beginning of the fourteenth century.

The inside of the cupola of the Baptistry was frescoed in the second half of the thirteenth century, influenced by Byzantine concepts.

It is divided into six concentric scenes.

The first shows the life of Abraham with pictures of the four elements, the four seasons, the four rivers of Eden and the four elements of the body.

There is also a representation of the life of St John the Baptist which one might expect in a Baptistry.

Also represented is Christ in Glory with the Virgin and St John the Baptist; then the Apostles and the four evangelists; Heavenly Jerusalem within its walls; then the red sky of eternal Love.

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the lower walls were covered with frescoes by Emilian artists such as il Maestro di Gerardo Bianchi, il Maestro del Trionfo della Morte, Niccolò da Reggio, and Bertolino da Piacenza.

For more information and images, see:

45 second video clip: "Antelami on The Baptistry of Parma"

VML Inside View of Parma Baptistry:

360 degree interior view of the Baptistry

Official web site