Brunelleschi, Filippo (1377-1446)

"Brunelleschi, Filippo (1377-1446)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Wednesday 27th April 2011

Filippo Brunelleschi, Italian architect and sculptor, was born and died in Florence in 1377-1446. He was the primary person in the Florentine art leading it to the ideals of Renaissance. His education took place in a studio for sculptors and gold-smiths, but at the same time he was very interested in ancient art and often visited Rome together with Donatello.
F.Brunelleschi from a medal by A.Cavalcanti Florence, Duomo

In 1401 he won a contest for the execution of the second bronze door of the Battistero and his Sacrificio di Isacco (Florence, Mus.del Bargello) was considered the winner of the contest together with the work of Ghilberti. Then Brunelleschi conducted his activity as a sculptor creating the figures of Prophets and Fathers of the Church for the high Altar in the church of San Jacopo in Pistoia.

Several years later in 1420 were sculptured Crocifisso in the Cappella Gondi in Santa Maria Novella (sculptured according to an anecdote by Vasari in competition with the Crocifisso by Donatello in the church of Santa Croce); tondi on the bas-relief of the Evangelisti in the Cappella dei Pazzi.

Brunelleschi's interest to mathematics (he had a friend- mathematician Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli) and studies of ancient art caused the beginning of his architectural activity. From 1409 to 1423 he was working on the idea and project for the dome of the church Santa Maria del Fiore (photo 1.). The construction started in 1423 was finished only in 1438. Brunelleschi was an initiator of a new tecnique which permitted to cover the inner and outer sides of the dome without reinforcement. With Brunelleschi the idea about an architect as a Medieval foreman changed to an idea about an architect as a project-designer, creator able to resolve thanks to his capacities and intelligence all the problems of a construction from the basic structure to little decoration details. Without profound studies of the Roman and Tuscanian architecture, elaboration of a theoretical basement and "invention" of perspective he would never be able to create his most wonderful masterpieces and thus start a new epoch in architecture.

The other major works of Brunelleschi are: portico dell'Ospedale degli Innocenti (1419) (photo 3.); Basilica of San Lorenzo (1420) (photo 4.); Sacrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo (1419-1428) (photo 5.); Cappella dei Pazzi in Santa Croce (1430) (photo 2.); Basilica di Santo Spirito in Oltrarno (projected in 1436 and initiated in 1444).

But his activity was not limited only by the field of religious architecture, because he was a military engineer and architect, inventor of machines and mechanisms, civic architect (interventions in Palazzo di Parte Guelfa and Palazzo Pitti, 1440).

F.Brunelleschi was buried in Santa Maria del Fiore, his tomb remained unknown for centuries and was discovered only in July, 1972.

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