In the early 15th Century, a competition was held to create a new set a doors for the baptistery in Florence, Italy. A baptistery is a building where newborn children are baptized, as no one who hadn’t been baptized was allowed inside the main Cathedral.
Filippo Brunelleschi, who would go on to construct the dome of the cathedral next door, and Lorenzo Ghiberti were the main rivals to win this competition. The winner would be paid a great amount of money and gain fame. Ghiberti won, but there is more to the story . . .
For 1000 years before this competition, art in Europe served one purpose — to teach the Bible, as almost everyone was illiterate, so they couldn’t read the Bible. Artists did not care about making their work realistic; show foreground and background did not matter, making their subjects lifelike was not important — only conveying the message of the Bible mattered. Ghiberti’s doors changed that, and he influenced all artists who came after him. This type of realistic portrayal of people and the idea that humans mattered were central to art in the Renaissance.
The doors were so beautiful that Michelangelo said that they deserved to be the gates to paradise, or the gates to heaven. Ghiberti worked on these doors for more than 20 years. If Brunelleschi had won this competition, who knows if he would have ever built his dome.
Which of the GRAPES (geography, religion, art/architecture/achievements, political systems, economic systems, social classes) do you see in this post? Answer in the comments below.