My next stop, on my not-going-to-great-art-locations day, was Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill in San Francisco. Again, seeing art collected in the historic locations is a valuable experience. But, for anyone living near a major city in the USA, you can probably find your fill of art of any location and time. Some locations even have some specialty item worth seeking out. What does an Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco have to do the Florence?
During World War II, with the Allied forces marching up Italy, art historians were concerned about what would be destroyed along the way. Not that the Allied forces were into destroying art for destructions sake, but bombs do blow things up and retreating and conquering force find looting the rewards warfare (much of the art in Paris got there thanks to Nepolean pillaging various European cities).
The artists in Florence made duplicate casts of the Doors to Paradise by Ghiberti. These are on the baptistery outside the Duomo. The reproduction doors were slipped out of Italy and ended up on Grace Cathedral in the 1960’s.
The doors consist of ten scenes from the Hebrew scriptures. Each scene is contained in a square, using the narrative style, such that several events from each event may be portrayed. Thus God creates Adam; Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the forbidden tree; and, the angel expels Adam and Eve from Paradise all in one scene. Bordering the scenes are Hebrew figures, and heads of people whom I could not identify (including Ghiberti, I believe).
The scenes use a relief style of sculpture, with some sections slightly raised, some almost fully formed, and others presented almost as shallowly as an etching. In this painterly fashion, Ghiberti presents the action occurring in architectural settings related to Renaissance Italy, rather than Egypt, Judea, etc.
After admiring the doors (I had an exclusive tour as no one walking by seemed to know what I was taking photos of), I spend more time in the cathedral. It has dazzling stained glass windows on various themes, several chapels, a labyrinth for contemplation, and fresco depicting scenes from California history.