Sepulcher of Giovanni da Velletri, called Sarcophagus of the flower girl
- Ancient Roman art - Florentine craftsmen
- 3rd cent., 1230
- Baptistery of Saint John
- Specific location
- Interior, southwest wall
- Original location
- Ancient cemetery area of Piazza del Duomo and Piazza San Giovanni (the sarcophagus)
- Sculpture, molding, engraving
- Height: 124 cm; Width: 246 cm; Length: 71 cm;
- White marble
Wall-mounted marble tomb of Bishop Giovanni da Velletri, deceased 1230.
The tomb was constructed using a Roman sarcophagus from about the mid-3rd century AD, decorated in scenes from the life of the deceased, with the addition of a base, the jutting frame and lid, and a funeral inscription on the back wall.
Giovanni da Velletri was bishop of Florence from 1205 to his death on 14 July 1230. The placement of any tomb inside the Baptistery was exceptional, but justified for this man by his high office and great public appreciation during his lifetime. The reuse of Roman sarcophagi was quite common in the Middle Ages, and this one probably came from an ancient cemetery next to the Baptistery.
The figures carved in bas-relief on the sarcophagus front are difficult to interpret, but clearly refer to a woman, who would have been a citizen of Roman ‘Florentia’. The frieze, flanked by two funerary putti, shows the deceased three times: in the centre we see her half-length, standing before a curtain and behind a basket of flowers; on the left she is composing garlands with flowers, brought in a basket by a lad; and on the right she receives a crown of leaves from a winged putto. On the basis of these scenes, scholars have hypothesised that this was the sepulchre of businesswoman in the flower trade, hence the familiar name ‘Sarcophagus of the Florist’.