Lorenzo di Cione Ghiberti, the son of a goldsmith from Florence, Italy, would become one of the most influential artists of the early Renaissance. As a child prodigy, he received his first commission at the age of 23. Ghiberti multi-tasked a bunch of his work including the doors of the Florence Baptistery and many statues. He was a student of humanism and incorporated much of its philosophy into his work.
Ghiberti’s mother married Cione Ghiberti in 1370, and they lived in Pelago near Florence; at some point later she went to Florence and lived there as the common-law wife of a goldsmith named Bartolo di Michele.
They married in 1406 after Cione died, and it was in their home that Lorenzo Ghiberti spent his youth. It is not certain which man was Ghiberti’s father, for he claimed that the two men were both his father, just at separate times. But throughout his early years, Lorenzo considered himself Bartolo’s son, and it was Bartolo who trained the boy as a goldsmith.
It was reported in the autobiographical part of his writings that Ghiberti also received training as a painter during these times, he left Florence in 1400 with a painter to work in the town of Pesaro for its ruler, Sigismondo Malatesta.
In 1401 Ghiberti quickly returned to his home city once he heard of a competition being held for the commission to make a pair of bronze doors for the Baptistery of the cathedral of Florence. Six other artists and himself were given the task of representing the biblical scene of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac in a bronze relief of quatrefoil shape, following the tradition of the first set of doors produced by Andrea Pisano.
Ghiberti was chos...
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...ree from the background.
Throughout his career, 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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