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Libro Della Seconda, E Terza Porta Di Bronzo Della Chiesa Di S. Giovanni Batista Di Firenze 1403. 23 Novembre.

RA Collection: Book

Record number


Variant Title

Account of the second and third Gate of S. Iohn in Florence
Ferdinando Gregori, E Tommaso Patch Al Lettore
Thomas Patch, And Ferdinand Gregori To The Reader
Terza Porta di S. Giovanni di Firenze
Third gate of the Baptistery of S. Iohn in the City of Florence


(Firenze): (12. Settembre 1772.) (-1774)

Physical Description

[1] leaf of text (dble), [34] pl. (dble): [2] illus.; 462 mm. (Broadsheet).

General Note

Some plates are numbered, others unnumbered, as follows: [three unnumbered], nos. 2-10, no. 8, [two unnumbered], nos. 2-10, [one unnumbered], no. 2, [one unnumbered], nos. 4-10 ('et ultimo').

Responsibility Note

The only plates which are signed are the last group of ten. These are signed either as engraved by Ferd. Gregori (nos. 2, [3], 7) or as drawn and engraved by him (nos. 4-8, 6-10) (no. 9 is signed, but the signature has been clipped in binding); no. [1] of this group carries the words, 'F. Gregorj. Patch. Socij. Firenze 1772', which may be an artists' signature, publishers' imprint or both. The first plate of the work, the dedication/portrait, carries no signature of draughtsman or engraver but in its caption names the source-artists, Innocenzio Spinazzi (sculptor of the bust) and Ghiberti (designer of the pedestal). The two in-text illustrations are unsigned.

Only three plates carry publisher's imprints or privileges: the dedication/portrait ('Firenze 1773. con Privilegio di S.A.R.'), the general Elevation And Plan ('In Firenze MDCCLCCIV Per Ferdinando Gregorj e Tommaso Patch Con Privilegio di S.A.R.'), and possibly the first plate of the last group of ten ('F. Gregorj. Patch. Socij. Firenze 1772').

The work is dedicated by Ferdinando Gregori and Thomas Patch to Petrus Leopoldus, Grand-Duke of Tuscany (afterwards Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II).


See the catalogue entry on Patch's 'Life of Fra Bartolommeo'.

On the Royal Academy's cast collection see Plaster icons: the history and conservation of the Royal Academy cast collection [exhibition handlist] (2002).

Summary Note

No formal title is carried by this work. The words set in largest type on the recto of the one leaf of text are 'Libro Della Seconda, E Terza Porta ...'. These may be taken as its title, but they appear also to be the title of the manuscript to which Patch and Gregori refer in their address to the reader. Above this title, but in smaller type, is that address, first under its Italian title, 'Ferdinando Gregori, E Tommaso Patch Al Lettore', then under its English one, 'Thomas Patch, And Ferdinand Gregori To The Reader'.

The publication-date, '12 Settembre 1772', is given in the letter-press text; and three plates also carry the publication-date of 1772 (plates [1-3] of the last group). But three are dated 1773 (the dedication/portrait and plates 4, 5 of the last group), and two are dated 1774 (the general elevation and the last plate of the work) - indicating that the work was published serially.

The intention of Patch and Gregori is stated in their address 'To The Reader': 'The third Gate of the Baptistery of S. John in the City of Florence ... can be known to but few ... we therefore have undertaken to engrave it in thirty four Copper plates from Casts lately moulded upon the Original Gate, the Impressions of which may be so joyned together as to form an exact half of the Gate ... we have thought it most proper in publishing it to add an authentick abstract from a Manuscript ... entitled "an account of the second and third Gate of S. John in Florence"'. The abstract is in Italian only.

The thirty-four plates fall into the following six divisions:

1. one unnumbered 'frontespizzio', a dedication-plate with portrait of Petrus Leopoldus Grand-Duke of Tuscany;

2. one unnumbered 'Elevation And Plan Of The Gate', an overview of the panels and the door-surrounds;

3. ten plates numbered [1], 2-10, showing details of the borders on the door;

4. two plates, one numbered '8' and one unnumbered, showing details of the bronze cornice and architrave;

5. ten plates numbered [1], 2-10, showing details of the border of the door-surround;

6. ten plates numbered [1], 2, [3], 4-10, each showing one of the ten panels of bas-reliefs representing events of the Old Testament.

The two in-text illustrations are a portrait of Ghiberti and an engraved quatrain recounting Michelangelo's well-known admiration for the doors (which he is said to have described as worthy of the gates of Paradise).

Ghiberti's Baptistery doors, on Old Testament themes, were made between 1436 and 1452 (the manuscript which Patch and Gregori quote describes events from 1403 to 1456). They replaced two earlier sets of doors one on the life of Christ, also by Ghiberti, and one on the life of St John the Baptist, by Andrea Pisano; both of which were installed on other sides of the building.

In view of Patch and Gregori's reference to 'Casts lately moulded upon the Original Gate' it is interesting to note that in October 1773 the Royal Academy in London were ordering casts of Ghiberti's gate to be placed in their lecture-room - indicating that it was not only Patch but other British artists who were interested at this period in early Renaissance sculpture.


With the broadsheet leaf of text signed in ink top right: Guy Head.

13 August 1810: 'Mr Flaxman moved that the following work(s) be purchased for the use of the Library, viz. 1. Ghiberti's gates of the Baptistery at Florence...'. (RA Council Minutes IV, 236). First recorded in the Library in 1821 (see A Catalogue of the Library in the Royal Academy, London, 1821, p. 4).

Binding Note

Early 20th-century half red morocco, pink cloth-covered boards; gilt-decorated spine, spine lettered 'Ghiberti. Porta Di Bronzo Di S. Giovanni Di Firenze', 'R.A.' and '1716' [sic].

Name as Subject


Bible, O.T.
Sculpture - Bronzes - Bas-reliefs - Site-specific works - Public sculpture - Outdoor sculpture - Churches - Baptisteries - Doors - Church decoration and ornament - Italy - Florence - Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence) - History - 15th century - Renaissance
Bible stories - Christian art and symbolism - Iconography
Pictorial works - 18th century


Lorenzo Ghiberti, source artist
Ferdinando Gregori, draughtsman, engraver
Thomas Patch, 1725-1782
Leopold II Holy Roman Emperor, dedicatee
Innocenzo Spinazzi, source artist
Guy Head, previous owner