Gates of Paradise

7:00 AM

Lorenzo Ghiberti, Gates of Paradise, 1452 
by MEGAN GANNON

Today the Gates of Paradise act as the East Doors at the Baptistry of San Giovanni in Florence, a position they have held since 1452. Although today the gates are not the same, technically, the replicas produced in the early 21st century are a carbon copy, except for the fact that Ghiberti’s hands never touched the doors.

It seems as though the Gates of Paradise are a tale in deception. Upon completing them, Ghiberti's simply referred to the doors as doors. Then Michelangelo bestowed the name Gates of Paradise upon them. Within the panels, Ghiberti’s tells the stories of the Creation all the way to reign of Solomon. His usage of fluid building heights and distinguished foregrounds demonstrates his mastery of linear perspective. The detail in which he applies to each panel shows his meticulous devotion to accuracy. Each panel on it’s own is incredible, yet together they represent more power than one could attain individually. 

The original panels now live in the Museo del' Opera del Duomo in Florence. With 28.6 km separating them from their first home. Although at 15 feet tall these doors would attract attention anywhere. 

So let’s stand at them. Look up into their gilded beauty and what do we see? Rabelais wrote about the idea of “Do What You Will.”I want to open the Gates of Paradise and embrace myself with all knowledge beyond them. Now this is strictly metaphoric, due to a not insignificant three-foot barrier surrounding the doors that prevents me from touching the handle. Though the thought of pursuing something instead of merely standing by it, that’s what counts. Standing up against the megaphone, in your own pursuit of knowledge. 

Our inability to open the Gates of Paradise demonstrates our nature to as Rabelais said, “always strive after things forbidden and covet what is denied us." The Renaissance marks a shift in our educational path with a devotion to inquiry and a genuine desire to learn. 

We cannot open the Gates of Paradise, but we can open the wooden door to enter our classroom. As long as we strive to open that door, instead of standing by, we exercise our inner Renaissance man, embarking on our own quests of knowledge. 

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