The Sacrifice of Isaac

The Sacrifice of Isaac

Purchased from Messrs Giovanni Franchi in 1871 for £7

Original:

The Sacrifice of Isaac
Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378/81-1455)
1401-2
Gilt bronze
Museo Nazionale (Bargello), Florence, Italy

In 1401, the Arte di Calimala (the guild of the merchants dealing in foreign cloth and export) decided to commission a second bronze door for the Baptistry of Florence, to accompany the door completed by Andrew Pisano sixty-four years earlier. A competition was held for which seven competitors submitted trial reliefs of the Sacrifice of Isaac. The copy here is of Ghiberti's competition entry which was chosen in preference to that of his nearest rival, Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446). On the strength of this, Ghiberti was awarded the commission for the Baptistry doors, which he executed between 1403 and 1424. It is likely that this electrotype copy was intentionally only partly gilt for educational purposes, to show the effect of gilding on one area of the relief.