(b. 1378, Firenze, d. 1455, Firenze)

North Doors (Life of Christ)

Gilded bronze, 457 x 251 cm
Baptistry, Florence

The theme for Ghiberti's north doors of the Baptistry is the life of Christ in 20 scenes with the 8 lower panels containing the Evangelists and Fathers of the Church. As these doors were kept shut, except on feast days, the scenes read from the bottom accross both wings.

The first panels executed reveal that Ghiberti tried to harmonize his compositions with the Gothic quatrefoil. The slender, lyrical figures approximate those of International Gothic painters like Lorenzo Monaco and Gentile da Fabriano. Their draperies establish patterns of fluid elegance which contribute a rhythmic unity to the design. As his work progressed, his compositions became more complex and his forms began to fight with the quattrefoil. Since he included ever more ambitious architectural and geometrical elements, his compositions evolved towards the new rectilinear Renaissance format.

The decision partly to gild the doors was made in 1423 and they were hung in 1424.