LORENZO GHIBERTI 1378 -
xxxxxIt was the Florentine goldsmith and sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti who produced the splendid pair of gilded bronze doors for the northern side of the Florence Baptistry. Composed of 28 panels showing scenes from the New Testament, he was assisted by the Italian artists Uccello and Donatello. But it was the second pair of doors, those on the eastern side of the building, started in 1423, which won him fame and fortune. Made up of ten large panels depicting, in relief, scenes from the Old Testament, and not completed until 1452, they were described by the great Italian artist Michelangelo as the “Gates of Paradise”, and the name has rightly stuck. Among other works to be seen in his native city are three huge statues of St. John the Baptist, St. Matthew and St. Stephen in the church of Or San Michele.
aaaaaAs we have seen, it was the Florentine goldsmith and sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, who, in 1402, won the commission for the work on a pair of gilded bronze doors on the northern side of the Florence Baptistery. Among the students who helped him with this project were Uccello and Donatello. Splendid though these doors were on completion -
aaaaaBegun in 1423, these doors occupied Ghiberti for the rest of his working life. Also made of gilded bronze, they depict scenes in relief from the Old Testament, contained in ten large panels (three illustrated below). In this work the special features of the Renaissance -
xxxxxThe artist Paolo Uccello (1397-
aaaaaWorthy of special note are his St. George and the Dragon (now in the National Gallery, London and illustrated here), and The Hunt (now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), both completed around 1460, together with three panel paintings of the Battle of San Romano, (illustrated below), one of which is in the National Gallery. These three panels, depicting the victory of Florence over the combined forces of Siena and Milan in 1432, were commissioned by a Florentine banker. They were remarkable above all for their size (each measured about 10 x 6ft), and for their illusion of depth. This was obtained by sketching in a “ghost pavement”, the receding lines enabling Uccello to scale down the size of the figures according to their position. The style of this work is also interesting. It is extremely well detailed, packed with action, and its geometric designs and crisp colours anticipate modern art, exemplified by the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. The paintings, meant to be hung in sequence, eventually fell into the hands of Lorenzo the Magnificent. After his death, however, they were split up -
aaaaaFor Florence Cathedral he produced a remarkable fresco depicting a soldier on horseback, and in 1444 designed two stained-
aaaaaYet another Florentine artist who should be mentioned is the sculptor and architect Bernardo Rossellino (1409-
aaaaaIncidentally, the Italian humanist Leonardo Bruni (c1370-
and Leonardo Bruni
Uccello: Portrait – The Louvre, Paris; George and the Dragon – National Gallery, London; Battle of San Romano – National Gallery, London, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, and the Louvre, Paris. Rossellino: Annunciation – Church of St. Stephen in Empoli, near Florence; Tomb of Leonardo Bruni – Santa Croce, Florence.
Left to right: The Creation of Adam and Eve, Animals leaving the Ark, and Jacob and Esau.