Collaborative agreement reached between Florentine Cultural Agencies and Artstor

New York, 8 June 2005. Artstor is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Florence, Italy). Through this agreement, Artstor is supporting the rich photographic documentation of the recently restored bronze doors on the east side of the Florentine Baptistery, universally known as the “Gates of Paradise” (in Italian, “Porta del Paradiso”). The sculptural relief panels of the “Gates of Paradise,” produced during the second quarter of the fifteenth century by the great Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), constitute one of the most important art works of the early Italian Renaissance. After more than twenty-five years of work, the restoration of Ghiberti's famous “Gates of Paradise” is nearing completion. Artstor is sponsoring the comprehensive photographic documentation of the Gates of Paradise in their newly restored state. This photographic campaign has produced nearly 700 stunning, detailed photographs of Ghiberti's relief sculptures, all of which will be digitized and made available through Artstor at the highest resolution.

"These splendid new photos finally allow Ghiberti's work to be seen and studied as the three-dimensional, sculptural masterpieces they are," according to Gary M. Radke, Professor of Fine Arts at Syracuse University and Curator for Exhibitions of Italian Art at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. "Never before have we been able to study Ghiberti's works so clearly and in such exhaustive detail. Taken from a wide variety of angles and under lighting conditions that reveal the full subtlety of Ghiberti's modeling and finishing, these images will transform thinking about Ghiberti for decades to come."

The contents of this important archive will greatly enrich Artstor’s value to a wide audience in the history of art and related fields, including especially students of Italian Renaissance art. In reaching this agreement, James Shulman, Executive Director of Artstor, said, “The ‘Gates of Paradise’ are among the most glorious works of Italian Renaissance art, and the recent restoration of Ghiberti’s famous relief panels is one of the crowning achievements of scientific art conservation. Artstor is delighted to be able to play a part in supporting this important work through rich, new photographic documentation, and we are equally pleased to make these stunning new images available to scholars, teachers, and students. We anticipate that our partnership with the relevant Italian authorities – the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, and other Florentine cultural agencies – will lead to many further collaborations with Italian museums.”

The Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore was founded by the Florentine Republic in 1296 to oversee the construction of the new Cathedral and its bell tower. Since 1436, the year in which Filippo Brunelleschi’s famous cupola was completed and the Cathedral consecrated, the principal charge of the Opera has been to conserve the entire monumental complex. In 1777 it was further assigned responsibility for the Florentine Baptistery and in 1891 for the museum which had been created to house works of art that, over the years, had to be removed from the Cathedral and the Baptistery.

The Opificio delle Pietre Dure is an autonomous Institute of the Florentine Ministry for Cultural Heritage, whose operational, research and training activities find expression in the field of conservation of works of art. It is the seat of one of the Italian state conservation schools, of a museum displaying samples of its artistic semiprecious stone production, a scientific laboratory for diagnostics and research, a highly specialised library in the sphere of conservation, extremely rich archives documenting conservation projects, a research centre and a public climatology service. It is one of the largest institutions in Europe in this field, having at its disposal an interdisciplinary team of conservators, art historians, archaeologists, architects, scientific experts and documentalists.

Artstor was created in 2001 as an initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is now an independent non-profit organization with a mission to use digital technology to enhance scholarship, teaching and learning in the arts and associated fields.

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For press information about Artstor, contact Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, Communications Manager, at 212-500-2404.