- Museum number
The Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon, after a panel on the 'Gates of Paradise' bronze doors of the Baptistery of the Duomo, Florence, modelled by Lorenzo Ghiberti; in foreground figures standing and on horseback, beyond Solomon and Sheba at top of stairs, flanked by other figures and before building
Pen and black ink, with brown wash
- Production date
- 1798 (circa)
Height: 517 millimetres
Width: 522 millimetres
- Curator's comments
This drawing is after the tenth panel of the gate and is slightly less than life-size; the panel is 790mm x 790 mm. It is the design for an etching by Fedor, PD 1856,0209.268.
Bowers cat. entry
Fedor Ivanovich Kalmyck (1763-1832) after Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455)
The Queen of Sheba before King Solomon, c.1798
Pen and ink over graphite with brown wash, 517 x 522 mm
Purchased from Dr Granville
Ghiberti is a towering figure in the forefront of the artistic and intellectual revolution of the Italian Renaissance. The Queen of Sheba before Solomon is one of ten panels of his masterpiece, the doors known as the ‘Gates of Paradise’ (after Michelangelo’s description of them), which were designed c.1425-52 for the Baptistery of the Duomo in Florence. The panels are based on episodes from the Old Testament. Ghiberti achieved a remarkable perspective by modelling the foreground almost in the round while treating the background elements in the shallowest of relief. The panels were cast in bronze and gilded to shimmering effect. The doors remained in situ until the 19th century, but they have since been removed to the adjoining Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
The monumental architecture is a curious hybrid of Classical and Gothic styles. The stillness and the perfect symmetry of the composition create a sense of utmost solemnity. The meeting is presented with a strong sense of purpose: Sheba has come to test Solomon “with hard questions” (I Kings 10:1). Her crown is hidden from his gaze and she is presented as a veiled Madonna-like figure.
The present artist came from the Russian-Chinese border but based himself in Karlsruhe in Germany and travelled widely in Greece, Italy and England. He established a reputation for his work after sculpture, especially the antique. Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin (1766-1841) employed him to make drawings after sculpture from the Parthenon in Athens. Like Elgin’s celebrated collection of Greek and Roman sculpture, several albums of Kalmyck’s sketches are also in the British Museum. In about 1798 a set of etchings was published after the ‘Gates of Paradise’ and the present drawing - slightly less than life-size - is the design for one of these. Kalmyck has imitated Ghiberti’s contrasts of shallow and high relief, applying brown washes to indicate the deep shadows around the principal figures while drawing the architecture in line only. Early Renaissance art had fallen out of fashion by the 18th century and this publication is an example of the renewed interest that was to develop to a huge extent in the following decades.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2002 Jun-Oct, London, BM, Queen of Sheba: Treasures from ancient Yemen, no.15
2004-2005 17 Oct-13 Mar, California, Bowers Museum, 'Queen of Sheba: Legend and Reality'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number