Begun in 1296, the new Florentine Cathedral employed one art above all, sculpture, later extending use of this medium to the Baptistery and, after 1334, to the Bell Tower. The choice of sculpture proclaimed the city’s modernity and economic strength, showing that Florence could vie with northern European cathedrals in what was then the most expensive art form, monumental statuary. It also had a religious meaning, since the New Testament calls believers “living stones” of the spiritual edifice whose foundation is Christ (1 Peter, 2,5). Thus the statues and reliefs on the Duomo, Baptistery and Bell Tower symbolised the identity of the people of Florence, who in these carved prophets and saints contemplated their own call to holiness.
In this gallery leading to the project’s most imposing component, the Duomo façade reconstructed in the adjacent Sala del Paradiso, visitors see works from the Baptistery and the sides of the Cathedral, as well as the backs of two of the bronze doors of the Baptistery.