Best Known For
One of the most important early Renaissance sculptors, Ghiberti is best known as the creator of the bronze doors of the Baptistery of Florence.
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After completing the first set of doors for the Baptistery of Florence, Lorenzo Ghiberti embarked upon a decade of intense exploration of new ways of forming pictorial space and lifelike figures to occupy it. Historians believe that Ghiberti encountered Leon Battista Alberti, a young humanist scholar who, inspired by the art of Florence, composed theoretical treatises on the visual arts. Ghiberti was also influenced by 11th century Arab polymath Alhazen, whose Book of Optics,
about the optical basis of perspective, was translated into Italian during the 14th century.
Lorenzo Ghiberti incorporated these techniques into the baptistery's next set of bronze doors, considered his greatest work. Dubbed the "Gates of Paradise" by Michelangelo, each door portrays five scenes from the Old Testament. In the individual panels, Ghiberti used a painter's point-of-view to heighten the illusion of depth. He also extended that illusion by having the figures closer to the viewer extend outward, appearing almost fully round, with some of the heads standing completely free from the background. Figures in the background are accented with barely raised lines that appear flatter against the background. This "sculpture's" aerial perspective gives the illusion that the figures become less distinct as they appear farther from the viewer.
Throughout his career, Lorenzo Ghiberti was actively interested in other artists' work and careers. His workshop was a gathering place for several prominent artists who were on the cutting edge of early Renaissance technology. Whether through collaboration, competitive rivalry or just familiarity with each other's work, each artist influenced the other. Several apprentices working in his shop would later become well-known artists themselves.
Ghiberti was also a historian and collector of classical artifacts. In his Commentarii, a collection of three books that included his autobiography, Ghiberti expounded on the history of art as well as his theories on art and humanist ideals. After a life of building the foundation of Renaissance art and expanding its boundaries, Lorenzo Ghiberti died on December 1, 1455, at the age of 77, in Florence.
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