Dostoevskij and his came true dream of the Florentine Gates of Paradise
On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his birth, the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore donates an image of the Gates of Paradise to the Dostoevsky Memorial Museum to make a life-size reproduction, according to the wishes of the famous writer
Dostoevsky visited Florence twice - in 1862, for a few days, and in the winter of 1868-69, when he stopped for a few months and finished The idiot - and on both occasions he wanted to see the Gates of Paradise of the Baptistery of Florence and asked, in years when photography was still in its infancy, if it was possible to make a life-size photographic copy of it to be exhibited in his own studio.
For the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Fyodor Michajlovič Dostoevskij (November 11, 1821, Moscow, Russia), the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore responded enthusiastically to the request of the Dostoevsky Memorial Museum in Saint Petersburg, donating an image of the Porta del Paradiso of the Baptistery of Florence which will be reproduced in life size and exhibited in the reconstructed studio as part of an important exhibition that the Museum will dedicate to the great writer and philosopher, thus realizing his dream.
"Nothing attracted him more in Florence than the Gates of Paradise - explains Sergio Givone, philosopher and vice president of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore - To those who asked him the reason for this predilection, he replied: because those are the real doors of Paradise ".
Did Dostoevsky know that Michelangelo had said more or less the same thing? According to Vasari, Michelangelo was the first to give such a demanding definition of Ghiberti's masterpiece. Michelangelo's judgment first of all concerned the aesthetic quality of the work. Dostoevsky, on the other hand, suggested moreover that through the doors of the Baptistery it was possible to penetrate the greater mystery, the mystery of eternal life after death.
“Dostoevskij - continues Sergio Givone - makes his own a conception of art of which little is known in the West and which instead the Orthodox Church has always held in high regard, so that it is considered an object of faith. It is about sacred art and in particular icons as images that are not limited to representing the face of Christ, the Madonna and the Saints, but embody and reveal it in a truthful way. In other words, icons are an epiphany of the divine, a manifestation of the transcendent. In front of them we kneel. The historical-artistic evaluations can wait. Dostoevsky's statement regarding the Ghibertian Doors must therefore be read in the sense that that work of art would allow you to glimpse paradise as it really is ".
"Consulting a catalog of the Alinari of 1873, - explains Giuseppe Giari, head of the photographic archive of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore - we discovered that the reproduction of the Gates of Paradise was the only work printed in such a large format and the most expensive in the catalog: 2 meters and 50 cm by 1 and 60, consisting of 30 assembled photos. The price was 350 lire. A very high figure for the time. They also made another one, smaller in size, 2 meters and 0.6 cm by 1 and 10, made up of 14 photos, costing 200 lire ".