4—Baptistery of San Giovanni

You can’t very well avoid the Baptistery, but really we’ve got the doors in San Francisco, gracing French Gothic Revival Grace Cathedral.“In World War II, they were under the supervision of Bruno Bearzi, master founder and superintendent of the city’s art works. At first, the doors were sandbagged, then taken down and hidden in a railway tunnel. Bearzi discovered the original gilding exposed by rubbing ropes. At last, they were moved to the Palazzo Pitti. Partisan railroad destruction prevented their possible export to the growing collection of Nazi Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering. After the war, Bearzi cleaned the doors and made gelatin molds of the panels, from which he later cast and finished replicas. He offered the replicas for sale, and one of the cathedral completion architects, Lawrence Kruse, heard of their availability. Donors enabled Grace Cathedral to purchase the replicas for the cathedral completion in 1964.”

I’ve always felt these door personified the essence of San Francisco’s High Provincialism.

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