Although all three of the ancient bronze doors have been permanently removed from the Baptistery, the original bronze door jambs and lintels remain in situ.
In 1423 the workshop of Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) produced a bronze frame for the north portal, which is decorated with creeping foliage strewn with flowers, fruits and animals. The two fictive rings at the corners of the lintel, which appear to support the festoons of foliage, recall the popular custom, during festive celebrations, of hanging wreaths of flowers and fruits above doors.
Lorenzo Ghiberti and his son, Vittore, fashioned the frame of the east portal between 1449 and 1452, employing a similar scheme to the one they employed on the north portal. The vine creepers on the door jambs climb out of a vases. At the centre of the lintel, we see an eagle, symbol of the Arte di Calimala (the cloth merchants' guild, which took care of the fabric of the Baptistery), between two bunches of grapes, symbols of the Eucharist.
In 1452 the guild immediately commissioned Lorenzo Ghiberti to design a frame for the south portal, which was completed in 1466 by his son Vittore. Vasari described it as 'the rarest and most beautiful thing that one can see in bronze'.
Ghiberti junior added a number of new elements, such as heads and figures, to his father's decorative scheme. The floral decoration on the jambs sprouts from vases, which are held up by the almost naked figures of Adam and Eve. The lithe beauty of Eve seems to foreshadow the elegance of Mannerist bronzes.
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