GHIBERTI, Lorenzo
(b. 1378, Firenze, d. 1455, Firenze)

Eastern Door of the Baptistry

1425-52
Bronze with gilding, 599 x 462 cm
Baptistry, Florence

This is the masterpiece of Ghiberti, who worked on it for 27 years, lavishing on it all the richness of his imagination, combined with a fine sense of composition and profound knowledge of the modeller's art. Michelangelo defined the door as fit to be the "gate of Paradise".

The door, a universally admired masterpiece, has ten panels depicting Biblical scenes. At the centre of the door at left is the self-portrait of Ghiberti. The door's original gilding has recently been recovered from beneath the patina formed over the centuries. It was badly damaged by Florence's flood in 1966 when the waters of the Arno reached a height of more than 180 cm. After restoration it was moved to the museum of the Cathedral and substituted by a copy.