Co-curated by Dr. Gerhard Wolf, Director of Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institute, Dr. Timothy Verdon, Director of the Museum of the Opera del Duomo and advised by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta
The Gates of Paradise, courtesy a generous loan from the Guild of the Dome Association, are identical to the replica that currently decorates the exterior facade of the Eastern Door of the Florence Baptistery. The original masterpiece underwent nearly twenty-seven years of restoration and is permanently located inside the Museo dell’Opera in Florence.
Named “The Gates of Paradise” by the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo (Italian, 1475-1564), the centerpiece of the exhibition was created by sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (Italian, 1378-1455) between 1425 and 1452 to complete the ensemble surrounding the Dome. The Gates of Paradise depict Ghiberti’s masterful sculptural and narrative rendering of ten biblical panels from the Old Testament.
The top left panel depicts scenes from the story of Adam & Eve. In the lower left corner of the panel is the Creation of Adam, in the centre, the creation of Eve out of Adam’s rib. On the far left Adam and Eve are tempted by a serpent in the Garden of Paradise and, at far right, one sees their expulsion from the Garden for their sin.
In the upper right corner of the panel, Adam and Eve are depicted with their children, Cain and Abel. Below, at center, Cain tills the soil, while Abel watches his flock of sheep. In the upper left, Cain and Abel make sacrifices to god. Directly below, Cain, out of jealousy, kills Abel. As a consequence of this act, Cain is cursed by god (lower right).
Noah and his family and a host of animals are placed before a pyramid-shaped ark. At lower right, Noah makes an offering to god, who emerges from a series of circles in the upper right corner. In the lower left, Noah, half-nude and drunk, is sprawled before a vine-draped hut containing barrels of wine, with his sons on the right.
On the upper right, Rebecca receives the prophecy of the conflict between her sons, Esau and Jacob. On the left, within an arcaded interior, Rebecca gives birth. At the centre, Esau sells his birthright as the elder twin to Jacob. Isaac has instructed Esau to go hunting, but within the arcaded space Rebecca hatches her plan for Jacob to receive the blessing of their father. At the centre right, Jacob sets off to hunt. In the far right Jacob, pretending to be his brother offering goat meat and, mistaken by the blind Isaac for Esau, receives his father’s blessing. At the centre, Esau is informed by Isaac that his brother has received the blessing.
This photographic exhibition is based on the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence and combines two intertwined aspects: the pictorial evocation of the Florentine city space, and the history of its representation through the medium of photography between 1860 and 1960 in a variety of techniques, reproduced here in digital prints, and a number of originals from 1900 to 1950.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its huge dome and bell tower is the best-known building of Florence. The dome is visible throughout the city and has become a symbol of early Renaissance architecture. Although construction of the Florentine Cathedral dates back to 1296, the façade remained unfinished until the 16th century and was demolished in 1587. In the following years, on the occasion of various solemnities, it was covered with pictorial decorations. Emilio De Fabris (1807-1883) began construction of the new façade in 1871, yet its official inauguration by King Umberto I did not take place until May 12, 1887.
Like Ghiberti, Cellini wrote an autobiography. In dramatic words he describes the casting of the statue of Perseus, holding the head of petrifying Medusa and positioned over her, with streams of blood breaking out of both body and head. It is the richest and most fascinating text of the Renaissance about working in bronze, evoking the volcanic element of the liquid metal itself.
Cellini’s statues were carefully restored between 1996 to 2000 in an open laboratory which could be followed via video transmission. After long debates, the original monumental statue has returned to the piazza (being constantly monitored), whereas the figures and the relief of the plinth are replicas, and the originals are now displayed in the Museo del Bargello.
Courtesy The Frilli Gallery/Guild of the Dome Association, Florence, from the exhibition, 'The Florentine Renaissance: The City as the Crucible of Culture' at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai (March 30, 2014 - July 8, 2014). Organized by the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum in collaboration with the Guild of the Dome Association, the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institute, and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. Supported by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation.