The Early Modern World, C. 1300–1600

Early Renaissance in Italy

Who won the Baptistery Doors competition?

In 1401, the city of Florence held a design competition for a new set of bronze doors for the Baptistery of San Giovanni (St. John the Baptist), one of the most important religious buildings in the city. The contest was juried by the wealthy and influential Wool Merchant’s Guild. Competitors each submitted a sample panel in bronze depicting the Old Testament scene of Abraham sacrificing his son, Isaac. Out of seven competitors, only two sample panels have survived, one done by the famous renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi, and the other by Lorenzo Ghiberti, a sculptor and painter.

Ghiberti’s panel won the competition and Ghiberti went on to work on the impressive doors for the next twenty-five years, completing a total of twenty-eight bronze panels in 1425. His doors were so successful that Ghiberti was hired to make a second set of doors, known as the Gates of Paradise, which were installed on the east side of the Baptistery in 1452.


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