The Gates of Paradise


RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES – art of faith introduces the reader to humanity’s historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks “a recovery of humanity’s religious utterances through art.”


Nine in a series:

The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance Masterpiece

The Art Institute of Chicago

Visit the Exhibition Online

Theme: Narrative

The Gates of Paradise consist of ten panels—one column of five panels to each side of the seventeen-foot-high double doors. From the story of Adam and Eve at the top left to Solomon at the bottom right, each panel represents a succession of events. Often the same characters appear two or three times. The scheme allows Ghiberti to make each panel an entire narrative. (Source: John Haber,

The panels illustrate Old Testament stories, whose characters include Adam and Eve, Jacob and Esau, and David and Goliath. In order to produce this immensely complex work, the artist applied his knowledge of sculpture and form to the task of capturing essential elements in each of the 10 stories.

Ghilberti’s workshop trained many artists, including Donatello and Masolino. Apprentices were trained in all aspects of arts production, including the technique that Ghiberti re-invented, lost-wax casting.

On View: A panel of Adam and Eve in Ghiberti’s “Gate’s of Paradise”. Photo by Thermos. Source: Wikicommons.

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