Solomon and the Queen of Sheba Lorenzo Ghiberti Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Solomon and the Queen of Sheba displays Ghiberti's control of perspective in the background and includes a plethora of figures in the foreground in this wedding scene

The centre of this composition directs the eye straight down the middle of the perspective that has delicate pillars either side. A double flight of stairs leads up from the centre to the back. As with all of the panels in the Gates of Paradise, this measures 79cm tall and wide, made from gilted bronze.

The three dimensional qualities of these panels would normally leave the architectural elements relatively flat, just with the lines giving a suggestion of perspective. It is the figures in the foreground that would be carved deeper, allowing them to stand up from the artwork and provide further interest.

There is a casual array of figures who fight to catch a glimpse of the symbolic bonding of Eastern and Western churches, via the meeting of Solomon and the Queen. It is believed that this scene represents the meeting on July 9, 1439 on the steps of Il Duomo in Florence. At this time Italy was a fractured collection of republics and agreements such as this were necessary to strengthen one's rule and avoid invasion.

It was likely a political decision to put this work into the final array of panels as few artists had covered anything like this at around that time. It may have one rare compromise by sculptor Ghiberti, who was a strong personality that would normally insist on his own choices. The other panels combine several different biblical scenes together in each one, making this inconsistent in that sense.