Tuscan craftsmen, Mosaic with Angelic hierarchies (second register)
- Tuscan craftsmen - Bonaventura Berlinghieri - Master of Santa Maria Primerana - Master of the San Francesco Bardi
- C. 1240-1260
- Baptistery of Saint John
- Specific location
- Interior, vault, second register from the top
- Polychrome tesserae of glass paste, gold
The second ring of mosaics on the vault, created between 1240 and 1260, is attributed to various Tuscan masters. In this register, God the Father is represented among the angelic hierarchies, identified by inscriptions and with spiral columns placed between the individual angels. God takes the appearance of Christ, in keeping with the words "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), and significantly, his figure rises about the colossal Christ the judge. The letters Alpha and Omega, first and last of the Greek alphabet, have been inserted to left and right of God the Father, recalling the beginning and end of all creation, as is written in Revelations. This detail brings home the relationship with the image of Christ below: this is the God at the beginning of creation, mirrored below by the second coming of Christ, seen as the Judge at the end of all times, the two figures thus showing beginning and end of the entire story of human salvation. God the Father holds an open book with the writing Creavi Deo Angelos, meaning that he is king and creator of the angels, which flank him at either side. The iconographic source of these families of spiritual creatures is biblical, found especially in the Epistles of Paul, but their full understanding was established by the Doctrine of the Celestial Hierarchy, written by Pseudo-Dionysis the Aeropagite in the 5th century. Immediately beside God we recognise the Seraphim (red with fire) and the Cherubim (blue), each with a child’s face and six wings. Following, counterclockwise, there are the Domination, with sceptres; the Powers, with helmets, shields and spears; the Archangels, with scrolls unrolled; the Angels, with scrolls grasped in their hands; the Principalities, with staffs and banners; the Virtues, holding their sceptres as they admonish the youth; finally, the Thrones holding the mandorla, or divine throne.