Capolavori-A comparision of Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti

Essay by KILLERxBOBHigh School, 11th gradeA, January 2008

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The Renaissance was a cultural movement that lasted from the late 14th to the 17th century. It is credited as the birth of medieval Florence, before spreading throughout Europe from the Atlantic coast of Portugal to the fields of Poland. The term Renaissance means rebirth, and this era became a revival of learning heavily influenced by the classical antiquity of ancient Greece and Rome. It was marked by advancements in architecture, literature, painting, sculpting, philosophy, science, and warfare. Led by such men as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Masaccio, and Niccolò Machiavelli it had a vast influence on the art world and shaped history through their individual and varied cultural contributions. In particular, there are two men who have had a profound impact on the Renaissance world; Lorenzo Ghiberti and Donatello. Both artists were the vanguard of this artistic revolution, and are revered both by contemporary artists and by our retrospective opinion.

Their works such as Ghiberti’s Gate’s of Paradise, the statue of St. John the Baptist in the Orsanmichele, Donatello’s David, his work on the Sacristy doors of San Lorenzo. All of these masterpieces are considered definitive pieces from that era by both their contemporaries and modern artists, many seeking to replicate the gracefulness and beauty that radiates from such brilliant works.

When one is looking at artists of such magnitude as Lorenzo Ghiberti or Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, better known as Donatello, one must first understand how intrinsically linked these two masters were. Donatello was apprenticed, by custom, to a goldsmith, and later Ghiberti for a time. As such, he learned much from his teacher which he carried on with him throughout his career. This is especially evident when one compares his statue of David to that of Ghiberti’s St. John in Orsanmichele. In the latter statue,