The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti's Renaissance Masterpiece
July 28–October 14, 2007
In 1425 Lorenzo Ghiberti was commissioned to design a pair of bronze doors for Florence's Baptistery. He labored on the task for 27 years, fashioning a masterpiece that Michelangelo called "truly worthy to be the Gates of Paradise" for its remarkable beauty and grandeur. For the past 25 years, Ghiberti's gates have undergone extensive conservation, which is now nearing completion. To celebrate the conclusion of this arduous project, three relief panels from the Gates of Paradise and sections of the doors' frieze have traveled to North America. This exhibition affords viewers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe Ghiberti's work up close before the individual elements are reintegrated with the rest of the doorframe and put on permanent display in a hermetically sealed room in the museum of the Florence Cathedral (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo), never to travel again.
Depicting the stories of Adam and Eve, Jacob and Esau, and David and Goliath, the panels offer viewers a coherent vision of Ghiberti's artistic genius and the range of perspectival solutions he invented for his narrative panels. This exhibition also reveals the complex nature of the conservation process through the juxtaposition of two sections of the frieze and two decorative heads: one version of each has been resplendently cleaned; the other is still disfigured by damaging surface deposits. A video documents the conservation methods used, including cutting-edge laser technology, which enables the surface dirt to be cleaned in a non-invasive manner.
Sculptor, painter, draftsman, architectural consultant, stained-glass designer, entrepreneur, author of a treatise on the arts, and the first artist to write an autobiography, Ghiberti could honestly declare in his Commentaries that "few things of importance were made in our city that were not designed or devised by my hand." The masterpieces in this exhibition, while representing only a small portion of his works, confirm that Ghiberti had good reason to boast.
Bruce Boucher, Curator of Sculpture, Department of Medieval through Modern European Painting and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago.
The exhibition catalogue provides an interdisciplinary consideration of the creation, preservation, restoration, and significance of the Gates of Paradise from the converging perspectives of scientists, conservators, and art historians. It is available in the Museum Shop.
This exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, in collaboration with the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence, Italy.
High Museum of Art, Atlanta: April 28–July 15, 2007
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: October 30, 2007–January 14, 2008
Seattle Art Museum: January 26–April 6, 2008
This exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art in collaboration with the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, Italy.
This exhibition is supported by generous gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Frederick A. Krehbiel II and Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan.
Additional support is provided by The President's Exhibition and Acquisition Fund.
This project is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities and by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
Special thanks to the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Chicago for its collaboration and support.
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