The lifework of Italian artist Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) are the two bronze portals he made for the baptistery in Florence. His first, the north portal, he was invited to do after he won a contest, beating his closest rival Filippo Brunelleschi. He worked on the north portal for 21 years, from 1403 to 1424.
The reliefs on the portal showed the life of Christ and representations of the Evangelists and the Fathers of the Church. After having visited Venice in 1424, he spent 24 years of his life on the east portal of the baptistery. In this portal, Ghiberti experimented more than before, developing a schiacciato style (a flat relief). The piece of art on the east side of the building soon got to be called Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo and subsequently the public. Especially the three reliefs called Isaac, Joseph and Solomon are extraordinary.
Ghiberti's workshop became one of the leading centers of Florentine activity. One of his famous pupils was the first real renaissance sculptor Donatello.
Lorenzo Ghiberti is also the first known artist-autobiographer. He wrote an account of his own life accompanied by an analysis of historical art under the title Commentarii. It is the oldest autobiography by an artist we know of.