Baptistery of St. John, Siena, Italy

baptistery siena 1
Detail from the Baptistery Ceiling. I always love the chance to practice my Latin. Sometimes that goes better than others. The one on the left says, “Then he will come to judge the living and the dead.” On the right: “My spirit will be in your midst.”

When it comes to early Renaissance art, Siena is more or less thought of as Florence's little brother. A lot of the same artists worked in Siena. Donatello and Ghiberti come to mind. But, in general, the Sienese had their own artists, and the art there tends to the more purely decorative, which I guess you could construe as more conservative.

But, it's beautiful stuff, and certainly fulfills its decorative and didactic functions, as you can see in the beautiful Baptistery of St. John (The Baptist.)

Every inch of the baptistery is covered, unlike it's Florentine sibling that reserves the walls for simpler adornment. So, the effect in Siena is one of overwhelming admiration of the effort, if not the absolute awe you often run into in Florence.

baptistery siena font 1
The panel of the baptismal font by Ghiberti, who also sculpted to doors of the Baptistery of Florence. This is The Arrest of John the Baptist.
baptistry siena ceiling 2
The elaborately painted ceiling is probably the Baptistery's most striking feature.
baptistry siena madonna 2
The Altarpiece of the Madonna and saints, by Andrea Vanni. I guess Giotto was busy.

Get all our travel tips delivered to your inbox

Subscribe to our email newsletter

We promise no spam. You can unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

2 thoughts on “Baptistery of St. John, Siena, Italy”

    • All of Siena is quite nice. And the food is distinctive and delicious. As I said, it’s a bit like Florence, but slightly more conservative in its art. Beautiful, nevertheless. The cathedral is particularly interesting for its floor mosaics.


Leave a Comment

If you liked this post, please share it.