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Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Ghiberti

(c. 1378 - 1455)
Born: Florence, Italy
Style: Early Renaissance
Famous Works:
  • Sacrifice of Isaac (1402-03)
  • Saint John The Baptist (at the Orsanmichele, Florence) (1414-16)
  • San Giovanni Baptistery Doors (Gates of Paradise) (1425-52)
Lorenzo Ghiberti is heralded as an Early Italian Renaissance virtuoso, as well as the sculptor of one of the masterpieces of Western art. In his youth, Ghiberti was trained to work with gold by his father, a goldsmith. His most famous work is the cycle of gilded scenes found on the doors of the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence. This was Ghiberti's second commission at the Baptistery. His first, a set of twenty-eight bronze panels, was won in a contest that required its contestants to depict the sacrifice of Isaac. Other artists heavily sought the commission. The other finalist of the project was Filippo Brunelleschi, a sculptor and architect who had constructed the dome of the cathedral of Florence directly across from the Baptistery. Ghiberti's training as a goldsmith and a painter contributed to the success of the doors. They demonstrate masterful technique and skill in the metal medium as well as the height of composition and perspective. The ten panels incorporate figures and landscape in breathtaking depth, and were inspirations to artists of the Late Renaissance, including Michelangelo. The workshop that Ghiberti established to complete this commission became an important place for other artists of the time to train, experiment, and learn from the master. Artists who spent time there include Paolo Uccello and Donatello. An avid historian, Ghiberti wrote an autobiography in his later years, the oldest surviving autobiography of an artist.
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