The beginnings of Renaissance Sculpture as an art form
sprang from the commissioning of two doors for the Baptistery in Florence. The
artist tasked for this work was the local metalworker Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455).
Ghiberti had won a competition for the first door to be completed in bronze
which was to be a replacement for an existing wooden door. The success of
Ghiberti’s first effort resulted in the Guild of Florentine Merchants
commissioning him for the second set of doors these are famously referred to as
the Gates of Paradise. Ghiberti was now an independent craftsman and unlike his
work on the first door some twenty- four years earlier he exercised
considerable freedom in his treatment of the Paradise doors. The Merchant Guild
was the first to fully accept this change in the client-artist relationship and
that proved to be a major turning point for the future of art.
For the gates of paradise, Ghiberti reduced the number of
scenes from 28 – on the first set of doors - to ten. These ten reliefs portray
figures from the Old Testament. Beginning at the top left they are Adam and
Eve, Noah, Isaac, Moses and David. On the right door are, Cain and Able,
Abraham, Joseph, Joshua and Solomon. These panels are framed by figures of the
prophets set in a slim vertical arrangement, they alternate with small busts and
appear almost as three-dimensional sculptures.
Read more about Ghiberti and the placement of these doors.