Barisano da Trani

An artist active in southern Italy from 1179 and well documented throughout the following decade, Barisano da Trani, who undoubtedly had an important foundry in this city, worked on three bronze doors: for Trani Cathedral, Ravello Cathedral and Monreale Cathedral. In particular, in Monreale he dedicated himself to working on the northern door which bears the identifying inscription “Barisanus Tranensis me fecit”. Commissioned by King William II himself, it is dated between 1185, the year that Bonanno Pisano completed the Gate of Paradise, and 1189, the year in which the client died. The Barisano’s bronze door has two wings, each of which is divided into fourteen panels decorated with three episodes from the life of Christ (the enthroned Mother of God, the Deposition from the Cross, the Descent into Hell), the Maiestas Domini, scenes from the lives of saints and apostles and other decorative elements such as animals, rosettes, plant shoots. The entire figurative cycle, to be read from bottom to top, can be interpreted as the history of salvation in a Christological context. It begins with the symbolic representations, followed by the apostles, the saints, the panels dedicated to Christ and finally the Christ in Majesty.