Gates of Paradise

Doors
1425-1452 (sculpted), 1867 (electrotyped)
Gates of Paradise thumbnail 1
Gates of Paradise thumbnail 2
+2
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

These are electrotype doors cast by Messrs Franchi & Sons in London in about 1867. They were cast from the 'Gates of Paradise' doors at Florence Cathedral made by Lorenzo Ghiberti in Florence between 1425 and 1452.

This is an electrotyped impression of the second Baptistry door commissioned from Lorenzo Ghiberti by the Arte dei Mercantoni di Calimala (the guild of the merchants dealing in foreign cloth, and exporting cloth). The first door, executed between 1403 and 1424, was decorated with reliefs containing scenes from the New Testament. For the second door, in which the scenes were to be drawn from the Old Testament, Leonardo Bruni (1370- 1444) submitted a programme at the invitation of the Calimala guild. This programme was rejected in favour of a new scheme, which may have been drawn up by Ambrogio Traversari (1386-1439). In July 1452, it was decided to set up the new doors, not at the North portal for which they had been intended, but "because of their beauty", at the East entrance opposite the Cathedral. In order to achieve this, Ghiberti's first bronze doors were shifted from the East entrance to their present location, the North entrance.

Ghiberti (1378-1455) was a most celebrated bronze-caster, sculptor, goldsmith, draughtsman, architect and writer and the first representative of the universial Renaissance artist. His art reached its most brilliant expression in the Gates of Paradise. No other contemporary artist had so deep an influence on the art and sculpture of later times. Ghiberti’s writings, I commentarii, which also include his autobiography, established him as the first modern historian of the fine arts.

The method was invented by Moritz von Jacobi in Russia in 1838. It has complemented the older form of stereotyping. A mold is made, often of wax and then coated with very fine graphite powder or paint. The mold will then be suspended in an electrolyte solution.
In printing electrotypes are used instead of the original for long press runs, to avoid wear and damage to expensive type and linecuts. Electrotypes also can duplicate and replace linoleum cuts, woodcuts, and wood engravings and are used to duplicate metal sculpture. In the 19th century, museums often displayed electrotypes of ancient coins instead of the originals and individuals purchased electrotypes for their private collections.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitlePorta del Paradiso (popular title)
Materials and Techniques
Electrotype
Brief Description
Electrotype, impressions of 'Gates of Paradise' doors, from the Baptistry of Florence Cathedral, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1425-1452 , electrotyped by Giovanni Franchi & Sons, Clerkenwell, 1867
Physical Description
Electrotype doors cast from Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise. Framing the reliefs are 24 heads and 24 figures of prophets in niches. The door surround contains a frieze of birds and sprays of fruit and flowers.
Dimensions
  • Height: 767.5cm
  • Width: 473cm
  • Weight: 870kg
Production typeCopy
Object history
Purchased from Messrs Franchi & Sons in 1867 for £950.
Historical context
This is an electrotyped impression of the second Baptistry door commissioned from Lorenzo Ghiberti by the Arte dei Mercantoni di Calimala (the guild of the merchants dealing in foreign cloth, and exporting cloth). The first door, executed between 1403 and 1424, was decorated with reliefs containing scenes from the New Testament. For the second door, in which the scenes were to be drawn from the Old Testament, Leonardo Bruni (1370- 1444) submitted a programme at the invitation of the Calimala guild. This programme was rejected in favour of a new scheme, which may have been drawn up by Ambrogio Traversari (1386-1439). In July 1452, it was decided to set up the new doors, not at the North portal for which they had been intended, but "because of their beauty", at the East entrance opposite the Cathedral. In order to achieve this, Ghiberti's first bronze doors were shifted from the East entrance to their present location, the North entrance.



The narrative reliefs represent:



LEFT DOOR:

1The Creation of Adam, the Creation of Eve, the Fall and the Expulsion from Paradise

2The story of Noah

3Essau and Jacob

4The story of Moses

5David and Goliath



RIGHT DOOR:

1Cain and Abel

2The story of Abraham

3The story of Joseph

4The story of Joshua

5Solomon and The Queen of Sheba



Framing the reliefs are 24 heads and 24 figures of prophets in niches. The door surround contains a frieze of birds and sprays of fruit and flowers.
Subjects depicted
Summary
These are electrotype doors cast by Messrs Franchi & Sons in London in about 1867. They were cast from the 'Gates of Paradise' doors at Florence Cathedral made by Lorenzo Ghiberti in Florence between 1425 and 1452.



This is an electrotyped impression of the second Baptistry door commissioned from Lorenzo Ghiberti by the Arte dei Mercantoni di Calimala (the guild of the merchants dealing in foreign cloth, and exporting cloth). The first door, executed between 1403 and 1424, was decorated with reliefs containing scenes from the New Testament. For the second door, in which the scenes were to be drawn from the Old Testament, Leonardo Bruni (1370- 1444) submitted a programme at the invitation of the Calimala guild. This programme was rejected in favour of a new scheme, which may have been drawn up by Ambrogio Traversari (1386-1439). In July 1452, it was decided to set up the new doors, not at the North portal for which they had been intended, but "because of their beauty", at the East entrance opposite the Cathedral. In order to achieve this, Ghiberti's first bronze doors were shifted from the East entrance to their present location, the North entrance.



Ghiberti (1378-1455) was a most celebrated bronze-caster, sculptor, goldsmith, draughtsman, architect and writer and the first representative of the universial Renaissance artist. His art reached its most brilliant expression in the Gates of Paradise. No other contemporary artist had so deep an influence on the art and sculpture of later times. Ghiberti’s writings, I commentarii, which also include his autobiography, established him as the first modern historian of the fine arts.



The method was invented by Moritz von Jacobi in Russia in 1838. It has complemented the older form of stereotyping. A mold is made, often of wax and then coated with very fine graphite powder or paint. The mold will then be suspended in an electrolyte solution.

In printing electrotypes are used instead of the original for long press runs, to avoid wear and damage to expensive type and linecuts. Electrotypes also can duplicate and replace linoleum cuts, woodcuts, and wood engravings and are used to duplicate metal sculpture. In the 19th century, museums often displayed electrotypes of ancient coins instead of the originals and individuals purchased electrotypes for their private collections.

Bibliographic Reference
Trusted, Majorie. ed. The Making of Sculpture: the Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: V&A Publications, 2007, p. 165. pl. 314
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1867-44

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record createdSeptember 19, 2006
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