Watch the premiere broadcast of Seattle Channel's Artzone, featuring The Gates of Paradise (3:57 into the video).
Michelangelo is credited with dubbing them “the gates of paradise,” and sixteenth-century artist and writer Giorgio Vasari called them “the finest masterpiece ever created, either in ancient or modern times.” Three stunning panels from Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, one of the most celebrated works of the Italian Renaissance, will be on view at SAM Downtown. This exhibition marks the first time that the gilded bronze panels have traveled to the United States since their creation over 550 years ago. Generations of admirers have praised the monumental doors of the Florence baptistery for their compelling portrayal of scenes from the Old Testament and their innovative treatment of architectural space.
The Gates of Paradise exhibition will present the three panels within the context of their 25 years of restoration, nearly as long as it took Ghiberti to create the work. After five centuries of use, exposure to weather and pollution, and human contact, the doors were manifesting the ravages of time—their surfaces corroded and gilt finish dulled. During the restoration, researchers made major new discoveries about the history and consummate craftsmanship of the doors, ultimately revealing the lustrous gold surface that had been obscured over time. The exhibition will give insight into Ghiberti’s work and his development as an artist.
SAM is privileged to provide our community this rare viewing opportunity. After they tour four cities in the United States, including Seattle, the panels will return to Florence to be reassembled within the original doors and kept in an oxygen-free environment at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, never to leave Florence again.