Florence Baptistery - Santa Maria del Fiore Square
5.20 meters high, 3.08 meters wide and 9 tons of weight entirely covered in gold. These are the bronze wings of the East Doors of the Florence Baptistery at whom Michelangelo stared commenting that “ they’re so beautiful they would grace the entrance to paradise”.
The masterpiece from then known as the “Gates of Paradise” by Lorenzo Ghiberti, is again finally visible after 27 years of successful, careful and meticulous restoration that brought it back to its original gilded splendour.
From the years in which they were solemnly hung in 1452 the Gates remained on the east side of the Baptistery. It was not until the Second World War that the Gates were removed for safety reasons and a first restoration by Professor Bruno Bearzi was executed. But when Florence woke up on the morning of November the 4th 1966 a dramatic event hit the city, the flood, damaging many of its art treasures.
It needed a modern consciousness towards preservation and the help of one man only from the far east, Japan, to take action into the project of casting a replica substituting the masterpiece and granting to it the opportunity to be painstakingly restored.
This all begun thanks to the spirit of esteem, trust and collaboration that existed between Mr. Aldo Marinellli, historic Florentine foundry man and owner of the centennial Frilli Gallery, and the patron Choichiro Motoyama, one of the most powerful businessman of the Far East , primary importer of Italian luxury goods and fond admirer of the Florentine Renaissance art.
The Frilli Gallery, born in 1860, started the most important chapter in its modern history, casting the replica from the only existing original molds taken by Professor Bearzi; those replicas still nowadays reside in front of the Duomo’s façade.
In return Mr. Motoyama, playing the key role of the man without whom nothing could have taken place, especially the masterpiece restoration, was given immortality: his name engraved on the replicas as perennial memory to posterity of his generous sponsorship.
Mr. Motoyama financed entirely the casting of the replicas, donating to Florence a new life, a new aspect and a period of new grace, granting to the citizens the conservation and protection of the original Doors.
After 27 years the restored masterpiece will enter the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo installing it in a context very similar to that of the 15th century, recreating the old square of the Duomo; the other two Doors, the North Door again by Lorenzo Ghiberti and the South Door by Andrea Pisano will also be located here in the near future.
The substitution and the restoration of these two last Doors will this time be financed by a newly constituted association named Guoìild of the Dome, G.O.D.
As it happened over 20 years ago, standing strong of its expertise and tradition, the Frilli Gallery will conduct the casting of these new replicas this time no more with silicon molds taken from the originals as it is no longer authorized, but with the new and avant-guard technique of 3D laser scanning of the origjnals.
The new chapter of this endless story will be written in Fall 2012 when the Guild of the Dome Association will be presented to the international press and a new era of international patronage and Florentine corporation of the arts will start, to safeguard one of the biggest world’s heritage sites.