The Northern door of the Baptistery
After 600 years from its creation, Ghiberti’s masterpiece has been completely restored and will be visible for the first time in the New Opera Duomo Museum on October 29th, 2015.
With just a short period left, the opening of the New Opera Duomo Museum will open its doors with the biggest collection of Florentine sculpture from the Renaissance to the world.
After years of waiting, famous masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Pieta’, Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, and The Choir by Lucca della Robbia and Donatello will again be visible to the public. For many other artworks it will be their first time being exhibited, as will be for the Northern Gate. Another masterpiece by Lorenzo Ghiberti that for the first time after 600 years from its creation it has been completely restored in two years’ time.
The Baptistery’s Northern Gates are considered as the piece of art that opened up Florence’s Renaissance period. The Northern Gate’s creation came in second place (1403-1424) after Andrea Pisano’s (1330-1336) but came before the Gates of Paradise (1425-1452).
The Merchants Corporation known as “l’Arte di Calimala” was to create the Baptistery’s doors one after another, but for a series of reasons, including the 1348 plague, the project came to a stop and was taken up again until 1400. It was then decided to hold a contest for the Baptistery’s second doors. Besides Ghiberti, other artists participated as well, such as Filippo Brunelleschi who was his main opponent, Niccolo’ d’Arezzo, Jacopo della Quercia da Siena, Francesco di Valdambrino and Niccolo’ Lamberti. The artists were asked to make a tile within in a year that depicted Isaac’s Sacrifice. Lorenzo di Bartoluccio Ghiberti (1378-1455) won the competition and worked on the Baptistery’s Doors for the rest of his life which would also give him fame and fortune.
Likewise in size to the famous Gates of Paradise, the Northern Gate is 5 meters tall, 3 meters wide, and each of its doors weighs over 4 tons, for a grand total of 9 tons.
The restoration was done by the “Opificio delle Pietre Dure” and was completely financed with private funds that were made available to the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and to the Guild of the Dome Association. This restoration began in 2013 and was finished a few days ago.
Just as seen in the images below, Lorenzo Ghiberti made the Baptistery’s second doors golden as well. The doors would differ from the following Gates of Paradise in the way that the gold-mercury amalgam was placed only on the sculptural reliefs and leaving a bronze background. It is the contrast between the golden luminosity and the dark bronze that makes this piece of art extraordinary, equal in beauty to the Gates of Paradise.
The Northern Gates’ transportation from Opificio delle Pietre Dure’s laboratory to Piazza del Duomo happened during the night of September the 10th. It was placed inside the New Opera Duomo Museum in its new location, which is next to the Gates of Paradise, which will be able to be seen and visited on October the 29th. We hope to see you there!