Lorenzo Ghiberti was a famous Florentine metalworker and sculptor, he was also trained in the gold trade by his father. Born in 1378 he won a public competition, organized by the Arte dei Mercanti di Calimala, the guild of Florence's greatest merchants, for a pair of new doors to be located in the Baptistery of Florence.
The main competitors were Ghiberti, Brunelleschi and Jacobo della Quercia. Both of the trial panels by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi have survived. The theme was the Sacrifice of Abraham and Ghiberti's panel was technically superior with its smooth modelling and brilliant surface. The Brunelleschi was made in a number of pieces and linked together later, but the Ghiberti was cast in one piece.
Ghiberti started to work on the first pair of doors in 1403 and completed them in 1424, a period of twenty-one years. They show the great qualities of charm and grace associated with brilliant workmanship.
Following the success of these first doors Ghiberti was recognised as a master craftsman and was offered a commission for a second pair of doors, these are his famous Gates of Paradise. Lorenzo ran a very successful workshop and his most famous apprentices included Donatello and the Florentine painter Paolo Uccello.