Victor Coonin Presents New Analysis of Florence Baptistery’s South Frame at Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Publication Date: 12/12/2007

In 1452, goldsmith and sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti brought to fruition his second and final set of bronze doors for the Florence Baptistery. Tradition holds that Michelangelo dubbed them worthy of being called the “Gates of Paradise” and they have been called such ever since.

The next commission from the Baptistery’s patrons, the Calimala guild, was to replace the framing portal surrounding the building’s South doors. This was awarded to Lorenzo Ghiberti and his son Vittorio, jointly. Vittorio had already assisted his father on the Gates of Paradise and when Lorenzo died in 1455, Vittorio became responsible for bringing the South frame to completion, which he did by 1464. 

Dr. Victor Coonin, associate professor and chair of the Art Department at Rhodes, recently gathered with other scholars in a symposium on the Gates of Paradise at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The event was held in connection with “The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance Masterpiece” exhibition that runs through January 13, 2008.

Coonin presented a new analysis of the Baptistery’s South frame in which he discussed Vittorio having assistance in creating the famous work. Vittorio was a master bronze founder and studio head who coordinated the efforts of several individuals, including respected names such as Desiderio da Settignano, Bernardo and Antonio Rossellino, and probably the young Verrocchio and Antonio Pollaiuolo.  However, Vittorio bore ultimate responsibility for the South frame and the work helped establish a considerable artistic reputation both in Florence and beyond.

Coonin’s work sheds light not only on the famous artist but also the Ghiberti family legacy in Italian Renaissance art.

 Learn more about Professor Coonin