The "competition panels" of Brunelleschi and Ghiberti from the Bargello (Florence, Italy)

March 02, 2007

In December 2006, ARTstor announced the completion of its project to visually document the recently cleaned bronze doors on the east side of the Florentine Baptistery, universally known as the "Gates of Paradise." The sculptural relief panels of the "Gates of Paradise," produced during the second quarter of the fifteenth century by the Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), constitute one of the most important art works of the early Italian Renaissance. The cleaning of Ghiberti's famous bronze doors, which itself has required more than twenty-five years, is now richly documented in ARTstor through more than 900 stunning, detailed photographs of Ghiberti's relief sculptures, including some panels in their uncleaned or only partially cleaned state, and in both color and black-and-white.

ARTstor has now also sponsored a tandem photographic — executed by the outstanding photographer, Antonio Quattrone, — to document the so-called "competition panels" in the Bargelo museum.The panels are renowned relief sculptures depicting the "Sacrifice of Isaac," created by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi in 1401-1402 in hopes of securing the commission to produce the new set of Baptistery doors now known as the "Gates of Paradise." Eighty-five color and black-and-white photographs of the panels, offering a wide range of details and viewing angles, are now available in ARTstor in digital form.

Andrew Butterfield, a leading scholar of Italian Renaissance sculpture, describes his recent use of these new images in a seminar he is teaching at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University: "On Monday I received word that Quattrone's new photographs of the competition panels were online and on Tuesday I gave a presentation of them to the students in my seminar on Ghiberti. Over the course of two hours of looking and comparing, the students came to see Ghiberti and the origins of Renaissance art in completely new terms. Much — perhaps even most — of what has been said about the panels is wrong and demonstrably so. In the standard interpretation … repeated in lecture halls around the world, Brunelleschi's panel is said to be revolutionary, experimental, the first work of Renaissance sculpture …, while Ghiberti's is said to be "Gothic" …. Well guess what? This is almost exactly opposite of what the pictures of the reliefs show."

The cleaning of Ghiberti's famous bronze doors, which itself has required more than twenty-five years, is now richly documented in ARTstor through more than 900 stunning, detailed photographs of Ghiberti's relief sculptures, including some panels in their uncleaned or only partially cleaned state, and in both color and black-and-white.

To locate the new images of the competition panels in the ARTstor Image Gallery most readily, search for "Bargello Quattrone," so as to retrieve only these new photographs. Limit your search results to either Brunelleschi or Ghiberti to focus on either artist.