- Brunelleschi, Filippo
- (1377-1446)Considered the pioneer of Early Renaissance architecture. The son of a Florentine notary and diplomat, Brunelleschi received a humanistic education. He was trained as a goldsmith, and turned to architecture after losing to Lorenzo Ghiberti the competition for the east doors of the Baptistery of Florence (1401). His greatest achievement is the dome of the Cathedral of Florence. Arnolfo di Cambio and Francesco Talenti had built the cathedral in the 14th century, save for the octagonal dome. The opening they left above the crossing (where the transept and nave cross) spanned 140 feet and no architect of the period possessed the engineering skills to cover such a large expanse. We know from Giorgio Vasari that Brunelleschi traveled to Rome withDonatello to study the Roman remains, and there he took precise measurements of ancient buildings. The knowledge he gained facilitated his successful design for the dome. A dome of such large proportions would have collapsed under its own weight had it not been for Brunelleschi's innovative double-shelled construction, the first of its kind. To facilitate the task of building it, Brunelleschi devised a series of mechanical cranes and hoisting machines, and he even arranged for a canteen at dome level for laborers to take their meals without leaving the worksite.In 1419-1424, Brunelleschi was occupied with the Ospedale degli Innocenti, the Florentine foundling hospital built with funding from the Guild of Silk Merchants and Goldsmiths to which the architect belonged, no doubt a factor in his obtaining the commission. Like the cathedral dome, the hospital was inspired by ancient Roman architecture. The loggia's round arches, the columns that support them, its capitals, and the corbels that provide added support, all stem from Roman examples. So does the sober design, the rhythm established by the constant repetition of forms, and the emphasis on balance and symmetry. Brunelleschi also built two large churches in Florence: Santo Spirito (beg. 1436) and San Lorenzo (beg. 1421). In designing these structures, he rejected the Italo-Gothic style employed by his predecessors, instead opting for a classicized vocabulary dependent on ancient Roman prototypes. He also introduced a rational mathematical system of proportions, later adopted by other Renaissance architects, including Leon Battista Alberti.While working on San Lorenzo, Brunelleschi completed the Old Sacristy, the funerary chapel of Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici attached to the church's left transept. The Pazzi Chapel (1433-1461), the Chapter House of Santa Croce, also by Brunelleschi (completed by his pupils after his death), is a more elaborate version of the Medician structure. The plans for these two spaces are based on simple quadrangular and circular forms that emphasize balance, symmetry, harmony, and proportions. In 1434-1437, Brunelleschi worked on the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the seat of the Camaldolite Order in Florence and the earliest central plan church to be built in the 15th century. The church was modified in the 1930s, though extant plans and elevations reveal Brunelleschi's intentions — to create a structure dependent on the number eight. The result of this Pythagorean approach was an interior composed of an octagonal nave capped by an octagonal dome supported by a drum that sits on eight piers. The nave is surrounded by eight chapels, one used as the entrance to the church, six dedicated to the apostles, and the chapel facing the entrance assigned to the Virgin Mary.Brunelleschi died in 1446. Though he worked primarily in Florence, his influence was farreaching, mainly thanks to his follower Michelozzo who worked in Venice, Pistoia, Montepulciano, Milan, and even Dalmatia, spreading Brunelleschi's ideas. By rejecting the French Gothic style in favor of a classicized vocabulary and by introducing a new, rational principle of proportions based on Pythagorean thinking, Brunelleschi single-handedly altered the course of architecture in Italy and abroad. He also can be credited with being among the first to intellectualize the field of architecture, which up to that point had been viewed exclusively as no more than a manual labor.
Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. Lilian H. Zirpolo. 2008.
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Brunelleschi, Filippo — born 1377, Florence [Italy] died April 15, 1446, Florence Florentine architect and engineer. Trained as a sculptor and goldsmith, he turned his attention to architecture after failing to win a competition for the bronze doors of the Baptistery of … Universalium
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Brunelleschi,Filippo — Bru·nel·le·schi (bro͞o nə lĕsʹkē), Filippo. 1377 1446. Italian architect celebrated for his work during the Florentine Renaissance. His greatest achievement is the octagonal ribbed dome of the Florence cathedral. * * * … Universalium
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