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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:34

Video transcript

we have walked from the Duomo around to its back and at its back is a very large building which is in part it's baptistry like the cathedral itself this has a surface of black white striped stone and different colored marble on the outside but also fresco on the ceilings and walls the baptismal font stands in the middle of the building itself it is quite large it's very classical in its form it's got six sides with six bronze reliefs at the base separated by angels and figures of virtues the top part of the font we see a very classical structure with niches with sculpted figures surmounted also by frieze and pediments now the bronze plaques themselves are 15th century and they are by a variety of artists some our local Sini's artists but there at least a couple of identifiable Florentines there's gibberty and the most famous image here is by Donatello and that's the feast of Herod and it's interesting to think about the city-states vying for the best artists and Siena inviting the great Florentine artist Donatello to do a bronze panel for this baptismal font now some art historians have suggested that Donatello was brought in kind of to goad gibberty into getting his work done apparently he had received a commission and hadn't done the work this idea of setting up artists to compete to get the best results and get them on time with something that we see also in Florence the image by Donatello was an amazing one the story is horrific it speaks of King Herod who has ordered a henchman an assassin to bring him the head of John the Baptist on a plate well he does that because of Salome Salome offers to dance for King Herod if he will grant her a request and after she dances for him she requests the head of Saint John Baptist so it's a salacious story but also of course for the Christian perspective a really horrific one on the left the head of John the Baptist on a platter being presented by the assassin to King Herod himself who with several children look horrified they back away his hands are up a kind of surprised revulsion and the actual sight of this head yeah they turned away and almost move outside of the bronze pan on the right side you can see Salome herself and she's in a sensuous s-curve that really speaks to her dance and to Donatella looking back at ancient Greek and Roman sculpture she's very classicizing and we have a continuous narrative here because in the distance we see the head of st. John the Baptist being brought and then in the foreground we see that head being presented to King Herod in typical donatella fashion we have an incredible illusion of space and Donatello using high relief and very low relief to convey a very convincing illusion of space he's aided in the illusion of space by the use of the linear perspective which is almost unheard of in relief carving but by parting the two groups of figures he's exposing the tile floor which is giving us clear indications of orthogonals moving back in space this panel dates to just about the time that masaccio is creating the Holy Trinity so both artists were utilizing Brunelleschi's discover of linear perspective to create an illusion of depth and this is just a few years after all after Brunelleschi really develops or rediscover as linear perspective and its principles and we know that Donatello if we look at the figures at our San makayley was really interested in the human psyche and we really see that interest in human emotion here and the drama the narrative of the story look at the figure Justin back who holds that hand to the face just can't even bear this sight it is so terrible this is a story that's appropriate in that it is of the death of Saint John the Baptist but we see actually a family coming in now with a baby and is clearly a joyous moment it's such a contrast with an image that we're seeing here oh we're actually being asked to leave the baby is apparently going to be baptized