Florence’s famous gilded doors restored to its golden glory after 33 years
June 9, 2012 1 Comment
The restored originals, which Michelangelo dubbed the ‘Gate of Paradise’, will go on display in the city’s Museum of the Duomo in September in a temperature controlled environment. “The Gates of Paradise” is known to be a monument to the age of humanism.
They have been painstakingly restored and hidden from the public for the past 33 years, but now the gilded bronze doors of the Porta del Paradiso are ready to draw crowds once again. Lasers and chemical baths were used to remove the grime and oxidisation. which had built up over the years, threatening the future of the awe-inspiring masterpiece. The 6ft tall, nine-ton gateway took Ghiberti 27 years to complete and is considered in the art world as seminal work of the early Renaissance for its naturalism and innovative use of perspective. On seeing the gates in Florence‘s main piazza, artist Michelangelo immediately dubbed them the Gate of Paradise and said they could grace the entrance to heaven.
Ghiberti himself said they were ‘the most singular work that I have ever made.’Ten elaborate panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament adorn the doors and the two central busts are portraits of the artist and of his father, Bartolomeo Ghiberti.
The restored originals will go on display in the city’s Museum of the Duomo in September – they will be kept in a temperature controlled environment. Replica doors will remain on the Baptistry.
Ghiberti first became famous when he won the 1401 competition for the first set of bronze doors for the Baptistery of the cathedral in Florence. Brunelleschi was the runner up. The original plan was for the doors to depict scenes from the Old Testament, and the trial piece was the sacrifice of Isaac. However, the plan was changed to depict scenes from the New Testament, instead.
When his first set of twenty-eight panels was complete, Ghiberti was commissioned to produce a second set for another doorway in the church, this time with scenes from the Old Testament, as originally intended for his first set. Instead of twenty-eight scenes, he produced ten rectangular scenes in a completely different style. They were more naturalistic, with perspective and a greater idealization of the subject.