Essay on Michelangelo: The Gates of Paradise

Essay on Michelangelo: The Gates of Paradise

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Michelangelo, renowned Renaissance painter and sculptor, called the doors “The Gates of Paradise,” a golden gateway leading into the Heavens. The name stuck, but more so because of the significance of the doors’ location at The Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence, Italy, where during the Middle Ages, converts came yearly at the parade dedicated to St. John the Baptist, to be anointed and earn paradise; hence, the “paradise” in The Gates of Paradise (“Baptistery of San Giovanni”). Before naming the work of art though, it had to have first been built. Commissioned to goldsmith Lorenzo Ghiberti in 1425 by the Arte di Calimala, a guild of wool merchants in Florence, the golden-bronze doors took twenty-seven years to construct and were finally installed in The Baptistery in 1452. As seen in Figure 1, the doors contain ten square panels depicting the following scenes from the Old Testament: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, The Drunkenness of Noah, Abraham and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Joseph Sold into Slavery, Moses and the Ten Commandments, The Fall of Jericho, David and Goliath, and Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (“Baptistery of San Giovanni”). Furthermore, a frieze consisting of flowers and small statues of prophets, sibyls (female seers), and busts surround the ten panels as extra décor. Built during a time of flourishing art and culture known as the Renaissance, this Early Renaissance piece exhibits various characteristics of the time period’s art style in subject-matter, appearance, representation, and even more artistic aspects. However, before further describing the Renaissance and its characteristics, it should be noted that Italy was at the center of the new Renaissance movement and that later, the Florentines’ victory against the...

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... example of Renaissance art.
The strong display of classical antiquity, humanism, and realism, throughout The Gates of Paradise, often through the use of detail, design, and composition, further strengthens the doors’ ideality as a Renaissance work of art. However, Lorenzo Ghiberti, the artist and creator of The Gates of Paradise, was the one who gave the doors those characteristics and thus, its meaning. In that sense, one can say that an artist defines his artwork and because of that, the artwork contains a piece of the artist. Farther down the road, as future generations analyze and gaze at that piece of art, the name of the artist is thus preserved for decades and even centuries - the artist’s name transcends time. With that in mind, is it not possible that mankind can achieve immortality through art? After all, art can last centuries while the body cannot.

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