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 Lorenzo Ghiberti

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Lorenzo Ghiberti

  • Birth c.1378 Florence, Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Toscana, Italy
  • Death 1 Dec 1455 Florence, Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Toscana, Italy
  • Burial Florence, Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Toscana, Italy
  • Memorial ID 19913

Sculptor. His fame rests on the two sets of gilded bronze doors he created for the Baptistery of Florence, Italy. He worked on them for nearly 50 years. The second set, known as the "Gates of Paradise" (1425 to 1452), is among the great masterpieces of Renaissance art. Ghiberti was born in Florence, and trained as a goldsmith. He was virtually unknown when in 1403 he won a competition to create a new North Portal for the Florence Baptistery, defeating such distinguished competitors as Filippo Brunelleschi. The task would occupy him until 1424. Ghiberti's doors consist of 28 square panel reliefs, most depicting scenes from the life of Christ. They were intended to compliment the Baptistery's South Portal, executed in the 1330s by Andrea Pisano, so Ghiberti had to compose each scene within a Gothic frame (called a quatrefoil) that permitted him little freedom of design. Nevertheless he managed to create many splendid variations on New Testament themes. The sculpted portions were gilded against bronze backgrounds. Ghiberti was then given complete creative freedom to provide a new set of doors for the building's East Portal. Doing away with the restrictive quatrefoil motif, he illustrated Old Testament scenes from Adam and Eve to Solomon in ten large square panels, which enabled him to exercise his virtuosity in the full range of bas-relief technique. The panels are entirely gilded, as are the figures and decorations along the panel borders, giving the whole a luminous quality. Many consider these doors the first true Renaissance sculptures. Michaelangelo, seeing them for the first time, reputedly said "they are worthy enough for the Gates of Paradise", and this appellation has been used ever since. Among Ghiberti's other works are several fine bronze statues of saints, three of them for the Church of San Michele in Florence (1413 to 1429), two reliefs for the Baptistery in Siena (1417 to 1427), and the Shrine of the Three Martyrs (1428), commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici (now in the Bargello Museum). He also designed many stained glass windows for the Florence Cathedral and helped supervise the construction of Brunelleschi's dome for that edifice. From around 1447 he wrote a collection of essays he called "Commentaries", which include an account of his life and his place in the art world of his time. This is the earliest surviving autobiography by an artist. In addition his Florence workshop proved an influential training ground for such future Renaissance sculptors as Donatello, who started out as one of his assistants. After his death it was successfully headed by Ghiberti's son, Vittorio.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 29 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19913
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lorenzo Ghiberti (c.1378–1 Dec 1455), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19913, citing Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence, Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Toscana, Italy ; Maintained by Find A Grave .