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Early Italian Renaissance
Renaissance Florence
Italian Renaissance
di Bartolommeo
•  Renaissance
Architecture is the
architecture of the period
beginning between the
early 15th and the early
17th centuries in
different regions of
Europe, where there was
a conscious revival and
development of certain
elements of Classical
Greek and Roman
thought culture.
•  The Renaissance style places
emphasis on:
•  Symmetry
•  Proportion
•  Geometry
•  The regularity of parts
•  Demonstrated in the
architecture of Classical
antiquity and in particular, the
architecture of Ancient Rome,
of which many visible
examples existed.
•  Orderly arrangements of
columns, pilasters and lintels,
as well as the use of
semicircular arches,
hemispherical domes, and
niches replaced the more
complex proportional systems
and irregular profiles of
medieval buildings.
•  Developed first in
Florence, with Filippo
Brunelleschi as one of
its innovators, the
Renaissance style
quickly spread to
other Italian cities and
then to France,
Germany, England,
Russia and elsewhere.
Milan Cathedral
Florence Cathedral
•  Italy had never fully adopted the Gothic style of architecture. Apart from the
Cathedral of Milan, largely the work of German builders, few Italian churches show
the emphasis on vertically, the clustered shafts, ornate tracery and complex ribbed
vaulting that characterized Gothic in other parts of Europe.
•  Italian architects had always
preferred forms that were
clearly defined and structural
members that expressed their
Tempietto di San Pietro, Rome, 1502,
Bramante. This small temple marks the
place where St Peter was put to death."
Tempio di Vesta, Rome, 205 AD. As the most
important temple of Ancient Rome, it became
the model for Bramante's Tempietto.
•  The presence, particularly in
Rome, of architectural
remains showing the ordered
Classical style provided an
inspiration to artists at a time
when philosophy was also
turning towards the Classical"
Pantheon, 27 CE, Rome
•  The buildings among the
ruins of ancient Rome
appeared to respect a simple
mathematical order in the
way that Gothic buildings did
•  One rule governed all
Ancient Roman architecturea semi-circular arch is exactly
twice as wide as it is high. A
fixed proportion with
implications of such
magnitude occurred nowhere
in Gothic architecture.
Tempietto di San Pietro
Very Roman looking
Filippo Brunelleschi
Baptistery of Florence
•  Credited with bringing about
the Renaissance view of
•  The underlying feature of the
work of Brunelleschi was
•  In the early 1400s Brunelleschi
began to look at the world to see
what the rules were that
governed ones way of seeing.
•  His observed that the way one
sees regular structures such as
the Baptistery of Florence and
the tiled pavement
surrounding it follows a
mathematical order- linear
Filippo Brunellschi
and the Florence Cathedral
•  The cathedral’s long nave ends in an
octagonal domed crossing as wide as
the nave and side aisles, from which
the apse and transept arms extend.
•  In basic architectural terms this is a
central plan church grafted onto a
basilica plan church.
•  It symbolically creates a Dome of
Heaven over the crossing, where the
main altar is located.
•  The great ribbed dome, so fundamental
to this abstract concept, could not be
built when it was planned in 1365. The
Italians were certain that somebody
would eventually figure out how to
build the dome.
•  In 1420 Filippo Brunelleschi solved the
engineering problems involved, and
constructed the dome.
Remember the problem
with the dome?
•  Brunelleschi, a young architect solved the problem of the dome by studying
Roman buildings.
•  When he lost the competition to design the doors of the Florence Baptistry,
he went to Rome, with another sculptor, Donatello and studied the Classics.
The Pantheon Dome was
Brunelleschi’s Inspiration
•  Inside the Pantheon's single-shell dome of brick and stone is coffering
which greatly decreases the weight, while maintaining the strength of
each individual stone.
•  The vertical partitions of the coffering effectively serve as ribs,
although this feature does not dominate visually.
•  Raised on a drum to
increase height
•  Double dome of two shells,
a light exterior shell and a
heavier interior dome
•  There is a walkway between
the two domes to allow for
maintenance from inside
•  Surmounted by a
LANTERN which anchors
the ribs of the dome in place
•  Brunelleschi was aware that a
dome of enormous proportion
could in fact be engineered without
a keystone.
•  The dome in Florence is supported
by the eight large ribs and sixteen
more internal ones holding a brick
shell, with the bricks arranged in a
herringbone manner.
•  Although the techniques employed
are different, in practice both
domes comprise a thick network of
ribs supporting very much lighter
and thinner infilling. And both
have a large opening at the top
•  Different than the Pantheon dome, Brunelleschi’s dome has 8 oculi
around the drum and another at the top right below the lantern
Ospedale degli Innocenti"
•  Balance
•  Symmetry
•  Repetition
A Canon of Proportion
for Architecture
•  From Brunelleschi’s
observation of the
architecture of Rome came a
desire for symmetry and
careful proportion in which
the form and composition of
the building as a whole and
all its subsidiary details have
fixed relationships, each
section in proportion to the
•  Nave of Basilica of
San Lorenzo
•  Florence
•  What does this remind
you of?
•  Note the PIETRA
SERENA - gray stone
common in
Brunelleschi’s buildings
•  Early Christian style wooden
•  Rectangular blocks define the
•  Main aisle twice the side of
side aisles
•  Feeling is light and airey
•  Minimum stained glass
•  Cool serene interior with very
little decoration
•  San Lorenzo, 1421-1469
Basilica Ulpia, 2nd century CE
•  Filippo Brunelleschi
•  façade of the Pazzi Chapel, Santa Croce
•  Florence, Italy, begun ca. 1440
•  Rectangular chapel
attached to the church of
Santa Croce, Florence
•  Two barrel vaults
intersect on the interior,
small dome over the
•  Interior has a quiet sense
of color, muted tones,
punctuated by glazed
terra cotta tiles, like the
Ospedale degli Innocenti
Pazzi Chapel
Santa Croce
•  Filippo Brunelleschi,
interior of the Pazzi Chapel
•  Pietra Serena and Glazed
terra cotta medallions
•  Santa Croce, Florence,
Italy, begun ca. 1440
Palazzo Medici
•  Brunelleschi’s plan for the Medici
palace was rejected because it was
too grand; later, Michelozzo di
Bartolommeo was hired to design
the building.
•  The design established a tradition
for Italian town houses that
remained the norm for a century.
•  The plain exterior was in keeping
with political and religious thinking
in Florence, which was strongly
influenced by Christian ideals of
poverty and charity.
•  Like many other European cities,
Florence had sumptuary laws,
which forbade ostentatious displays
of wealth, but they were often
•  Plans and elevations
•  Michelozzo di
•  Medici coat of arms
•  Cosmo Medici,
acquired and
demolished twenty
small houses to
provide the site for
his new residence.
•  The palace was
designed not only to
provide more living
space, but also to
provide space for
offices, storage
rooms, and
conducting business
Rusticated Stones on the lower level of the façade
expressed the power and fortitude of the Medici family
•  Michelozzo di Bartolommeo
•  façade
•  Palazzo Medici-Riccardi,
Florence, Italy, begun 1445
•  Note the change in texture of
the façade from top to
•  Rusticated stones first
floor, strongly cut blocks
second floor, smooth
surface third floor.
•  Building seems to get
lighter as it goes up.
•  Roman arches at base,
support shops and
businesses, very Roman.
•  Strong overhanging
cornice on top.
•  Interior courtyard allows
light and air into the
interior rooms of the
palace, very Roman.
Family Crest
•  Interior court of the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi
•  Florence, Italy, begun 1445.
•  Interior
•  Palazzo
Leon Battista Alberti
•  Santa Maria Novella, Florence
•  Designed by Alberti, note the symmetry and balance
•  In 1455, Leon Battista Alberti, a humanist turned architect and author,
devised a façade to be the unifying front for a planned merger of eight
adjacent houses in Florence.
•  The design, influenced in its basic approach by the Palazzo Medici, was a
simple rectangular front, suggesting a coherent, cubical three-story building,
capped with an overhanging cornice.
•  Palazzo Rucellai
•  Alberti
•  Three floors separated by a
strongly visible STRING
•  Pilasters further divide the
façade into square like
•  Used cleanly cut beveled
stones, unlike the Palazzo
•  Pilasters
–  1st Tuscan
–  2nd Alberti’s design
–  3rd Cornitian
•  Right: Leon Battista Alberti, Palazzo Rucellai, Florence
•  Left: comparison with the Colosseum, Rome.
Mantua, Prato, and Urbino
In the second half of the 15th century the
classicizing ideas of artists like Brunelleschi
began to expand from Florence to the rest of
Italy, combining with local styles to form the
distinctive Italian Renaissance.
•  The spread of Renaissance
architectural style beyond Florence
was due in significant part to Leon
Battista Alberti, who traveled
widely, wrote on architecture, and
shared his views with potential
•  In 1470 the ruler of Mantua,
•  Ludovico Gonzaga commissioned
Alberti to enlarge the small church
Saint' Andréa, which housed a
sacred relic believed to be the
actual blood of Jesus.
•  Wanting to accommodate the many
visitors to the church, Alberti
proposed an Etruscan style temple
•  Sant’ Andrea, Mantua
•  Alberti
•  Combination of Roman
triumphal arch and ancient
temple façade.
•  Giant pilasters flank the arch
and support the pediment.
•  Large barrel vault canopy
hangs above the façade,
limiting sunlight.
•  Alberti thought churches
should be dimly lit.
•  Neither the simplicity
of the plan nor the
complexity of the
façade hints at the
grandeur of
Sant’Andrea’s interior.
•  An immense barrelvaulted nave is
extended on each side
by tall chapels
•  Interior was inspired by
such ancient ruins as
the Basilica of
Maxentius and the
Baths of Caracalla.
•  Leon Battista Alberti, Church of Sant’Andrea, Interior,
Mantua, Designed 1470
Reconstruction Drawing of
Basilica Maxentius, Rome
•  Interior, Church of Sant’Andrea, Mantua
Giuliano da Sangallo
•  After completing a country villa for Lorenzo
Medici, Giuliano da Sangallo submitted a plan for
a votive church, a church built as a special
offering to a particular saint, in Prato.
•  In this case, the church was to house a painting of
the Virgin that a child in 1484 claimed had come
to life.
•  The painting was to be relocated from the town
prison to the new church, named Saint Mary of the
•  Because this was a votive
church, there wasn’t the usual
need for a long nave to
accommodate a large
congregation. So instead,
Giuliano designed a central
plan church.
•  The central plan church design
extended back to the Early
Christian Martyrium, and
perhaps all the way back to the
classical round temple called a
The Ducal Palace at Urbino
•  East of Florence lay another outstanding artistic center,
the court of Urbino, which under the patronage of
Federico da Montefeltro attracted the finest artists.
•  In 1468, construction of Federico’s Ducal Palace came under the
direction of Luciano Laurana.
•  Among his major contributions were closing the courtyard with a fourth
wing, and redesigning the courtyard façades.
The Ducal Palace, Urbino
•  The interior of the Ducal Palace reflected its patron’s
embrace of New Renaissance ideas and interest in
Classical antiquity.
•  Under Federico’s patronage, Italian craft artists found
freedom to experiment with new subjects, treatments, and
•  Among these was the creation of trompe l’oeil, fool the
eye effects.
•  Commonly used in painting, it was carried to its ultimate
expression in intarsia, wood inlay decoration.
•  This technique is exemplified by the walls of Federico’s
studiolo, a room used for his private collection of fine
books and art objects.
Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio,
15th century
Designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini Executed by Giuliano da Magana
Made in Gubbio, Italy.
Metropolitan Museum, New York
•  The technique that is employed here is intarsia, the Italian
word for wood inlay.
•  This technique was used to create intricate pictorial images
like these set into paneling, doors, or furniture.
•  Everything in the studiolo looks three-dimensional, as if
intended to fool us into thinking these objects are real.
•  This device is called trompe l'oeil (French for "fool the
•  The designer of the studiolo enhanced this illusion of
three-dimensionality by using a system of linear
perspective that had only recently been formulated by the
great Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi.!
•  Works referenced:
•  Marilyn Stockstad’s Art History: Second Edition
(Volumes one and two)
•  Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Timeline of Art
History.” Available online at <http://>
•  “The Web Gallery of Art.” Available online at <http://>