The Great Door of San Petronio, Bologna
Jacopo della Quercia had entered unsuccessfully the competition for the second pair of doors to the Baptistery of Florence in 1401, the event often taken as decisive in the history of Renaissance sculpture. The winner, Ghiberti, was already engaged on another pair by 1425; but Jacopo was no less celebrated in his native city of Siena, where he had completed his stone fountain, the ‘Fonte Gaia’, and where Louis d’Aleman probably met him in 1422. The San Petronio commission gave him a chance to show his skill again in another rival city to Florence: San Petronio was the patronal church of Bologna as the Baptistery of San Giovanni was of Florence. Jacopo’s work, like Ghiberti’s, was transitional in style, his Virgin and Genesis stories for San Petronio are distinctly classical, and like Ghiberti he took a very long time over it. The time allowed in this fastidious contract was absurdly short considering how much work was involved. Possibly a new contract was drawn up in 1428 on account of some of the discrepancies between this one and the work which survives; and there was a separate contract for the interior of the door. Jacopo della Quercia had not finished it when he died in 1438.
KeywordsCultural History Papal Legate Free Passage Character Reference Architectural Historian
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