Filippo Brunelleschi has left a legacy that not many people have been able to achieve throughout their life time. Brunelleschi was an architect and engineer, and one of the pioneers of early renaissance architecture in Italy. He was the first modern engineer and problem-solver with unorthodox methods. He built his major work, The Dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, with the help of the machines he invented specifically for this project.
The early life of Filippo Brunelleschi is mostly a mystery. But it is known that he was born in Florence, Italy in the year of 1377. The Italians birth name is Filippo di ser Brunellesco di Lippo Lap, but will just be called throughout history by his last name Brunelleschi. His father was Brunellesco di Lippo, a distinguished notary in Florence, and his mother was Giuliana Spini. Brunelleschi was the middle child out of three boys.
The Young Brunelleschi was given a mathematical and literary education in hopes of enabling him to follow in his father’s footstep in becoming a distinguished notary in Florence. However, Brunelleschi soon realized that is not what he would like do for the rest of his life. He then began to train as a goldsmith and sculptor and enrolled in the Arte Della Seta, the silk merchants’ guild, which also included goldsmiths, metalworkers, and bronze workers. In Arte Della Seta that is where Brunelleschi learned the skills of mounting, engraving, and embossing. He also studied the science of motion, using wheels, gears, cogs and weights.
In 1401, Brunelleschi entered a competition to design a set of bronze doors for the Florence Baptistery. In this competition Brunelleschi competed against Lorenzo Ghiberti and five other sculptors for the commission to make the bronze reliefs for the door of the Florence baptistery. Once all the sculptors were done with their bronze panels a panel of judges compared the work of each sculptor to pick which one they liked the best. After carefully looking at each sculptors work the judges came to a conclusion that the choice would be narrowed down to either be Brunelleschi work “Sacrifice of Isaac” or Lorenzo Ghiberti work. At this moment this was the highest point of Brunelleschi short career as a sculptor. But sadly the panel of judges announced Lorenzo Ghiberti to be the winner of this competition. It was said that the reason the judges picked Lorenzo Ghiberti work over Brunelleschi is because of his superior technical skill. Lorenzo Ghiberti’s panel showed more of a sophisticated knowledge of bronze casting and it was being cast as a single piece. Which was different from Brunelleschi’s because his was, by contrast, consisted of several pieces bolted to the back of the plate. Lorenzo Ghiberti then went on to complete a second set of bronze doors for the baptistery, which were called “Gates of Paradise”.