By Anne Leader

Lorenzo Ghiberti died on 1 December 1455 in Florence. He was buried in the Franciscan church of Santa Croce.

The sculptor rose to fame in 1401 with his victory in the competition for a new set of bronze doors on the Florentine Baptistery, a competition the young Filippo Brunelleschi had also entered. Lorenzo worked on the doors for over two decades, installing them in 1425. Showing scenes from the life of Jesus, the doors were so esteemed, Ghiberti was given a second commission immediately to create a third set. In these, he abandoned the Gothic quatrefoil frame of the earlier doors in favor of a square picture field, which allowed him to utilize recent developments in one-point linear perspective. He would work on these doors for another two decades, installing them in 1452 to great acclaim. Each set includes a self-portrait.

While bronze casting is a labor intensive process, the long production time was partly the result of Ghiberti’s many other responsibilities and projects, including monumental figures for Orsanmichele, like his imposing St. Matthew; the baptismal font in Siena; and writing his Commentaries, an informative autobiography which includes precious information on artistic practice in fifteenth-century Italy.

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