Art and Archaeology News
You are in:  Home > Art > News   •  Archives   •  send page to a friend
Headline Feed
Email to a friend

GATES OF PARADISE TO TOUR UNITED STATES

 

Lorenzo Ghiberti
Restored Prophet’s Head, Gates of Paradise
Gilt bronze, 1425-52
Collection of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Image courtesy of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence

 

By Culturekiosque Staff

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, 16 October 2006  — The High Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, Italy, announced today that it is in the advanced stages of developing an exhibition of three newly restored panels from Lorenzo Ghiberti’s celebrated Gates of Paradise. After more than twenty-five years of restoration work, this would be the first and only time that original panels from the Gates of Paradise will travel to the United States since their creation over 500 years ago. The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance Masterpiece intends to explore how Ghiberti created the doors and the processes that have been used to restore these 550-year-old masterpieces.

The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance Masterpiece will premiere in Atlanta on 28 April 2007 and remain on view through 15 July 2007. The exhibition is tentatively scheduled to travel to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Once returned to Florence, the three Gates of Paradise panels will be reassembled in their original framework and placed in a specially designed, hermetically sealed case in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo—never to travel again.

Created in the mid-15th century and installed in the eastern portal of the Florentine Baptistery,the Gates of Paradise are among the most historically significant works in Western art according to Michael E. Shapiro, director of the High Museum. The doors’ composition and design reflect the new artistic sensibility that pervaded Florentine painting and sculpture throughout the Renaissance. Of the ten original bronze panels that illustrate scenes from the Old Testament in high and low relief, the exhibition would showcase three panels from the left door depicting stories of Adam and Eve, Jacob and Esau, and Saul and David. The exhibition would also feature two standing prophets and two idealized heads from the doors’ splendid frame.


Lorenzo Ghiberti: Gates of Paradise
Gilt bronze, 1425 - 52
Collection of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Image courtesy Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence
Photo courtesy of High Museum of Art

"Ghiberti’s legacy influenced much of the artistic achievement of the Florentine Renaissance, and his workshop trained many future masters of the Florentine school, including Donatello and Paolo Uccello," said exhibition curator Gary M. Radke, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities at Syracuse University.

A goldsmith, sculptor, architect and writer, Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378 - 1455) earned his first major commission in 1401, after winning the design competition for the northern doors of the Florentine Baptistery. The prestigious competition attracted some of the finest artists in Tuscany, among them Jacopo della Quercia and Filippo Brunelleschi, who would later design the dome of Florence’s cathedral. Each artist was required to submit a panel representing Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac. Ghiberti’s interpretation of the moment of divine deliverance, which drew on the preciosity and elegance of the International Gothic style, contrasted with the bold, but less technologically sophisticated interpretation of Brunelleschi, who came in second place.

In 1425, after laboring for over twenty years on the northern doors, Ghiberti began work on his second set of doors, which would ultimately be placed at the Baptistery’s eastern entrance. Praised by generations of artists and art historians for its elegant portrayal of scenes from the Old Testament, the Gates of Paradise earned their nickname from Michelangelo, who greatly admired Ghiberti’s craftsmanship and artistic skill. Completed in the 1452, Ghiberti’s celebrated gates depict over thirty different moments from the story of Adam and Eve to Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, bordered with small figures of prophets and sibyls, and even portrait busts of the artist himself and his son Vittorio.


Lorenzo Ghiberti: Creation Panel , Gates of Paradise
Gilt bronze, 1425-52
31.5 inches x 31. 5 inches
Collection of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Image courtesy Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence
Photo courtesy of High Museum of Art

The Gates of Paradise were created using the lost wax technique, where a detailed wax model is imbedded in plaster or other heat resistant materials and then melted away, so that liquid metal can be poured into the vacant spaces previously occupied by the wax. Ghiberti cast the doors in bronze and then gilt the entire surface of the reliefs to create various pictorial effects and emphasize perspective. The ten reliefs contain a range of figures, some nearly in the round extending outward from the panel, some seemingly etched in the surface in extremely low relief. Instead of framing the scenes within gothic quatrefoils—as he had for his northern doors and as Andrea Pisano had done before him for the first set of Baptistery doors—Ghiberti developed large, rectangular "window frames" for his reliefs, thereby increasing the compositional space within which he developed the narratives.

Building upon the elegance and gothic grace of the northern doors, the Gates of Paradise also show the influence of classical sculpture with the introduction of more realistic figuration, drapery, and compositions. Ghiberti employs linear and atmospheric perspective to add a sense of space in each panel, all of which incorporated more than one narrative.


Lorenzo Ghiberti: Jacob and Esau Panel, Gates of Paradise
Gilt bronze, 1425-52
31.5 inches x 31.5 inches
Collection of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Image courtesy Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence
Photo courtesy of High Museum of Art

The three panels selected for The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance Masterpiece detail the Genesis of Adam and Eve, the story of Jacob and Esau, and that of Saul and David, giving viewers a coherent vision of Ghiberti’s work and his development as an artist. The Creation panel represents Ghiberti’s earliest work on the doors and includes splendid renditions of nudes, nature, and heavenly beings. The Jacob and Esau panel displays the development of Ghiberti’s masterful scientific perspective, with detailed high-relief figures in the foreground and impressive architecture organizing the overall composition. Finally, the David panel, with its representation of one of Florence’s most important civic heroes, shows a tumultuous battle and impressive city scene that are not seen in the previous works.


Lorenzo Ghiberti: David Panel, Gates of Paradise
Gilt bronze, 1425-52
31.5 inches x 31.5 inches
Collection of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Image courtesy Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence
Photo courtesy of High Museum of Art

Restoration of the panels was directed by Dr. Annamaria Giusti, at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Dr. Cristina Acidini, superintendent. The Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore is the successor to the Opera di San Giovanni, which originally commissioned the Gates of Paradise in the 15th century. The Opificio delle Pietre Dure, which was founded in the 16th century, now houses the world’s leading laboratory for the restoration of Renaissance sculpture.

High Museum of Art



[ Feedback | Home ]

If you value this page, please send it to a friend.

Copyright © 2005 Euromedia Group, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.