"Gates of Paradise"

The Old Testament in new splendor

Back in the early 15th century, an Italian sculptor named Lorenzo Ghiberti spent 27 years creating a pair of gilded bronze doors for the east entrance of his local baptistery in Florence. Known as The Gates of Paradise ever since Michelangelo supposedly dubbed them that, this Renaissance masterpiece has recently undergone a time-consuming, 25-year restoration. Massively large, at approximately 16.5 by 9.5 feet, the doors are composed of ten panels, each depicting a different scene from the Old Testament. Three of the panels from the left wing will be on display at SAM, along with two prophets and two idealized heads from the doors' frame—two of which have been left in pre-restoration condition to show the ravages of time, pollution, and earlier restoration attempts. This is the first time the panels have ever toured the United States, and Seattle is the fourth and last city in North America to host The Gates of Paradise before they return to Italy and get hermetically sealed away, indefinitely. Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3100. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thurs.-Fri. Closed Monday. Show continues through April 6. $7-$13. BRION KINNE

Sat., Jan. 26, 2008

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