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Western Civilization 10, Lesson 160 – Artists From the Early Renaissance

The Early Renaissance, which lasted from 1400-1495, was known for its remarkable art and architecture.  This week in class, I learned about some of the men who were known for their works during this period.  In this essay, I am going to talk about a few of these men.

Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378 – 1455)

Ghiberti was the most well-known artist of his time.  He was commissioned to sculpt panels for the doors of the Florentine baptistery that was next to the Duomo cathedral.  He designed and sculpted twenty-eight panels for the baptistery.  Twenty of the panels were dedicated to the life of Christ, four depicted apostles, and the last four were doctors of the Church.

For those who do not know, doctors of the Church are saints who contributed to the theology by research or writing.

When Michelangelo saw the panels, he praised Ghiberti and even went as far to say that the panels were “so fine that it would grace the entrance of paradise.”

Donatello (1346 – 1466)

Donatello was Ghiberti’s apprentice while he was completing the baptistery.  After his apprenticeship ended, he went on to become yet another well-known artist.  He was known for the two statues of David and the carving of Herod’s feast, which was a relief made of bronze for the Siena Baptistery.  Donatello also sculpted a wooden statue of Mary Magdalene which can only be described as equally beautiful and haunting.

Brunelleschi (1377 – 1446)

Brunelleschi was one of the many artists who were considered for the commission of the Florentine baptistery that Ghiberti was working on.  When he saw Ghiberti’s submission piece to the Florentine guild for the baptistery, he knew he was going to lose and left Italy to study architecture in Rome.  It seemed that his true gift was in architecture as he was later named “the first great architect of the Renaissance.”

He completed the building of the Duomo and created hoisting machines.  These machines made the construction of buildings easier and more efficient instead of the traditional scaffolding that was being used at the time.

Michelangelo was so astounded by the work that he decided to make a sister dome to the Duomo, but promised to not make it as beautiful as Brunelleschi’s work.  This was his way of paying tribute to the man, but also not outshining him.


As you can see, despite there being no technology during this time, artists and architects still managed to create beautiful and intricate works.  I highly suggest looking up some of the works these men created.  Even those who are not artists can appreciate the beauty and design of these pieces.  We can only wonder what these men may have accomplished if they were given the equipment we have today.

Thanks for reading!


Author: sophiaelahirpc

10th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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