10 Things to Know About Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Ghiberti is the son of Cione di Ser Buonaccorso Ghiberti and Fiore Ghiberti, born to them in Florence, in 1378. In the course of their marriage, Fiore lived with a goldsmith Bartolo di Michele who she later married. There are doubts that Cione was Lorenzo’s biological father because after his demise, his mother married Bartolo and he is the only dad known to him. 

Bartolo and Lorenzo had a well-knit father-son relationship. He was a well-known creative goldsmith in Florence, a trade he trained his son, Lorenzo. He learned the principles of design from his dad’s apprentice. In 1400 there was a plague in Florence and Ghiberti escaped to Romagna where he assisted another painter to execute frescoes on Carlo Malatesta walls. 

Lorenzo Ghiberti

He later returned to Florence in 1401 and took part in a historic competition for gilded bronze doors of the Florence Baptistery. Lorenzo was among seven other sculptors with the Sacrifice of Isaac theme and he emerged the winner. Lorenzo’s trial and one other is preserved because they were unique and delivered the message. Ghiberti’s line was the first classical Renaissance nude he ever created. 

Things you need to know about Lorenzo Ghiberti

1. Born in the Re-birth Era

The late Lorenzo is one of the early Italian sons born during the initial stages of the Renaissance era, in the year 1378. He was born and raised in Florence. And, he grew to become one of the accredited artists of his time, and he was a child with many talents at a young age. 

2. Hired when Young

Lorenzo attained his first commission at the tender age of 21 years. He must have been talented to earn the job at such a young age, yet there were many experienced artists for the job. 

3. Greatest Achievement

The Baptistery bronze doors in Florence was his first most outstanding achievement. He won a competition with seven other Tuscan artists, and the doors are also known as Gates of Paradise. He trained as a sculptor and goldsmith in his youth, a trade that was practised by his father, Bartolo. 

Lorenzo Ghiberti

4. A Writer

Later in Lorenzo’s life, he majored in the metallic art. He later became a writer and managed to write the famous book today titled Commentarii. The book doubles as his biography and also covers topics about public art. 

5. A Trainer

Between the 1410s and ’20s, Ghiberti was flourishing and expanding his firm. The Baptistery doors were completed in 1413 after which he moved to set up a big functioning workshop with many assistants. Ghiberti was again asked to make two bronze doors for the Siena cathedral in 1417, a job that he finished after ten years but under pressure from Sianese authorities. 

In his new workshop, many artists like Donatella, Masolino, Michelozzo, Paulo, among others got trained. After the completion of his first set of twenty-eight panels, he was commissioned for another door in the church with scenes from the old testament. 

Paolo Uccello was one of Ghiberti’s trainees, and he was remarkably regarded as the first master of perspective. He worked in the workshop for several years, and the extent of Ghiberti’s instructions to his innovations is difficult. 

Donatello was the pioneer of the first sculptural central-point in years he worked in Ghiberti’s workshop. The workshop is where his lifetime friendship with Paulo started. Today artists use the geometrical method of perspective, the work of Ghiberti’s contemporaries Filipo Brunelleschi: It is painting a building onto a mirror, and the lines converge on the horizon line.  

6. Celeb Artist

After working on several doors, Lorenzo was a celeb artist in that era. He received commissions from all corners including Pope Martin V who visited Florence in 1419. However, this piece of work has been missing, including other precious stones and metals. 

Lorenzo Ghiberti

For 27 years, Lorenzo was working on the East doors of the Florence Baptistery. The first entry was often panels with old testament stories. Once he was done, he was commissioned by the Arte di Calimala guild, one of Florences’ wealthiest unions in those days. His creation was perfect and it left people in awe.  

In his work, Lorenzo used gothic styles skillfully and his craftsmanship to bring the statue to being making his work unique. The job earned him another commission to create another figure of St. Matthew from the Arte Del Cambio guild. 

7. Father and Husband

Lorenzo Ghiberti met Marsila, the daughter of a comb maker Bartolommeo di Lucca and she was 16 years old and they fell in love. Their union bore them two sons, Tommaso Ghiberti and Vittorio Ghiberti. 

He lived for 75 years and died from a fever in his home in Florence in 1455 where he was buried in Santa Croce, on the 1st of December 1455. After his death, his son Vittorio took over business operations. 

8. A Collector

Lorenzo Ghiberti was a historian and collector of classical artefacts. He spread humanist ideas, and his Commentarii book is an essential source of information about Renaissance art and the first biography of an artist himself. 

9. An Investor

Ghiberti had financial rewards from his art’s success with a 1427 list of property in his hometown Florence. He had land parcels out of town, and a significant investment in government bonds. His real estate grew overtime and the monetary holdings. 

Although Ghiberti was well paid, he was also a shrewd businessman in the way he managed his businesses. Lorenzo Ghiberti was also a member of the Florentine society and a wealthy artist in his time.

Lorenzo Ghiberti
source: flickr.com

10. Gates of Paradise was his turning point

Ghiberti’s first competition trial was a turning point for his life. His father helped him polish his work before it was cast. He won the competition, and he was instantly recognized as a young artist and his first contract was signed in 1403. 

The contract was signed with Michele’s workshop where he had received most of his training. After four years, Lorenzo took over the workshop to work on the commission, and he was barred from taking other commissions.

Conclusion

Lorenzo was an Italian sculptor who was known as the best creator for bronze doors. His first bronze doors creation was for the Florence Baptistery today known as the Gates of Paradise. Although he was young, it was a competition among eight sculptors, and he emerged the winner and received his first commission. During his time, Lorenzo was a celeb artist with commissions from all corners, and that was his primary source of revenue.

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