Filippo Brunelleschi 


Image resultFilippo Brunelleschi (Italian: [1377 – April 15, 1446) was an Italian designer and a key figure in architecture, recognised to be the first modern engineer, planner and sole construction supervisor. He was the oldest amongst the founding fathers of the Renaissance. He is generally well known for developing a technique for linear perspective in art and for building the dome of the Florence Cathedral. Heavily depending on mirrors and geometry, to “reinforce Christian spiritual ‘reality'”, his formulation of linear perspective
governed pictorial depiction of space until the late 19th century.

By 1400 there emerged an interest in humanitas, which contrasted with the formalism of the medieval period, but initially this new interest in Roman antiquity was restricted to a few scholars, writers and philosophers; it did not at first influence the visual arts. Apparently it was in this period (1402– 1404) that Brunelleschi and his friend Donatello visited Rome to study the ancient Roman ruins. Donatello, like Brunelleschi, had received his training in a goldsmith’s workshop, and had then worked in Ghiberti’s studio. Although in previous decades the writers and philosophers had discussed the glories of Ancient Rome, it seems that until Brunelleschi and Donatello made their journey, no one had studied the physical fabric of these ruins in any great detail. They also gained inspiration from ancient Roman authors, especially Vitruvius, whose De Architectura provided an intellectual framework for the standing structures still visible.

Brunelleschi’s first architectural commission was the Ospedale degli Innocenti (1419–ca.1445), or Foundling Hospital. Its long loggia would have been a rare sight in the tight and curving streets of Florence, not to mention its impressive arches, each about 8 meters high. The building was dignified and sober; there were no displays of fine marble or decorative inlays. It was also the first building in Florence to make clear reference —in its columns and capitals—to classical antiquity.

Another commissions came, such as the Ridolfi Chapel in the church of San Jacopo sopr’Arno, now lost, and the Barbadori Chapel in Santa Trinita, also modified since its building. For both, Brunelleschi devised elements already used in the Ospedale degli Innocenti, and which would also be used in the Pazzi Chapel and the Sagrestia Vecchia. At the same time he was using such smaller works as a sort of feasibility study for his most famous work, the dome of the Cathedral of Florence.

Florence Cathedral

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The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore  ( “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers”) is the main church of Florence, Italy. Il Duomo di Firenze, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style with the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi.

By the beginning of the 15th century, after a hundred years of construction, the structure was still missing its dome. The basic features of the dome had been designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296. His brick model, 4.6 metres (15.1 ft) high, 9.2 metres (30.2 feet) long, was standing in a side aisle of the unfinished building, and had long been sacrosanct.

Brunelleschi would have to build the dome out of brick, due to its light weight compared to stone and being easier to form, and with nothing under it during construction. To illustrate his proposed structural plan, he constructed a wooden and brick model with the help of Donatello and Nanni di Banco, a model .The model served as a guide for the craftsmen, but was intentionally incomplete, so as to ensure Brunelleschi’s control over the construction.


The spreading problem was solved by a set of four internal horizontal stone and iron chains, serving as barrel hoops, embedded within the inner dome: one at the top, one at the bottom, with the remaining two evenly spaced between them. A fifth chain, made of wood, was placed between the first and second of the stone chains. Since the dome was octagonal rather than round, a simple chain, squeezing the dome like a barrel hoop, would have put all its pressure on the eight corners of the dome. The chains needed to be rigid octagons, stiff enough to hold their shape, so as not to deform the dome as they held it together.

Each of Brunelleschi’s stone chains was built like an octagonal railroad track with parallel rails and cross ties, all made of sandstone beams 43 centimetres (17 in) in diameter and no more than 2.3 metres (7.5 ft) long. The rails were connected end-to-end with lead-glazed iron splices. The cross ties and rails were notched together and then covered with the bricks and mortar of the inner dome. The others are hidden.

Brunelleschi also included vertical “ribs” set on the corners of the octagon, curving towards the center point. The Ribs, 13 feet (4 meters) deep, are supported by 16 concealed ribs radiating from center. The ribs had slits to take beams that supported platforms, thus allowing the work to progress upward without the need for scaffolding.

The outer dome was not thick enough, being  60 centimetres (2 ft) thick at the base and 30 centimetres (1 ft) thick at the top. Brunelleschi thickened the outer dome at the inside of its corners at nine different elevations, creating nine masonry rings.To counteract hoop stress, the outer dome relies entirely on its attachment to the inner dome and has no embedded chains.


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Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564) was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art.

He sculpted two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, before the age of thirty.

The scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and The Last Judgment on its altar wall. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At the age of 74, he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan so that the western end was finished to his design, as was the dome.

Michelangelo’s architectural commissions included a number that were not realised, notably the façade for Brunelleschi’s Church of San Lorenzo in Florence, for which Michelangelo had a wooden model constructed, but which remains to this day unfinished rough brick. At the same church, Giulio de’ Medici (later Pope Clement VII) commissioned him to design the Medici Chapel and the tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo Medici. Pope Clement also commissioned the Laurentian Library, for which Michelangelo also designed the extraordinary vestibule with columns recessed into niches, and a staircase that appears to spill out of the library like a flow of lava.

St. Peter’s Basilica

Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since ancient Roman times, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He  inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering minds of the 16th century. There were certain common elements in these schemes. They all called for a dome to equal that engineered by Brunelleschi a century earlier and which has since dominated the skyline of Renaissance Florence, and they all called for a strongly symmetrical plan of either Greek Cross form.

 Plan 3. This plan shows a return to the form of plan 1. but with all the various parts made bolder.

The dome was designed by Michelangelo,  By the end of his long life (he died at 89 in 1564), construction had reached the drum of the dome, which alternates highly prominent double columns with gabled windows. Then, Giacomo Della Porta, Michelangelo’s pupil, took over the direction of the work, raising the vault of the dome about 7 metres and completing it in 1590, in just 22 months, under the pontificate of Pope Sixtus V.

The dome has a double calotte, with an inner diameter of 42.56 metres and it measures 136.57 metres from the base to the top of the cross. The lantern is 17 metres high.

Michelangelo’s design consisted of two shells, a ribbed construction, and windows in the drum and cupola. The double shells allowed the dome to be more visible and offered protection against the weather. The final design for the dome made by della Porta was the same as Michelangelo’s design; however, the outer shell diverged radically, changing the shape of the shell from a sphere to an ellipse (shown in Figure 9). He believed that by designing the shell to be higher and more pointed, that he would disperse the weight and lessen the lateral thrust . Michelangelo had intended for the pilasters of the drum and the ribs of the cupola to act as buttressing forces, but by increasing the angle of elevation so radically, della Porta reduced those elements to little more than ornamentation. His heightened cupola is an almost perfect catenary curve.


Raffaello Sanzio.jpgRaffaello Sanzio da Urbino ( April 6 or March 28, 1483 – April 6, 1520),  known as Raphael was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.



Raphael was named architect of the new St Peter’s. Most of his work there was altered or demolished after his death and the acceptance of Michelangelo’s design, but a few drawings have survived. It appears his designs would have made the church a good deal gloomier than the final design, with massive piers all the way down the nave, “like an alley” according to a critical posthumous analysis by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. It would perhaps have resembled the temple in the background of The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple.

He designed several other buildings, and for a short time was the most important architect in Rome, working for a small circle around the Papacy. Julius had made changes to the street plan of Rome, creating several new thoroughfares, and he wanted them filled with splendid palaces.

An important building, the Palazzo Branconio dell’Aquila for Leo’s Papal Chamberlain Giovanni Battista Branconio, was completely destroyed to make way for Bernini’s piazza for St. Peter’s, but drawings of the façade and courtyard remain. The façade was an unusually richly decorated one for the period, including both painted panels on the top story (of three), and much sculpture on the middle one.

The Chigi Chapel


The Chigi Chapel  is the second chapel on the left-hand side of the nave in the Church ofSanta Maria del Popolo in Rome. It is the only religious building of Raphael which has been preserved in its near original form. The chapel is a treasure trove of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art and is considered among the most important monuments in the basilica.

Raphael’s centralized plan was inspired by the designs of Bramante for the new St. Peter’s Basilica. Another source of inspiration was the Pantheon with its dome, marble revetments and Corinthian pilasters. The simple cube is surmounted by a hemispherical dome resting on a high drum which is penetrated by a row of windows that allow light into the chapel. The trapezoidal pendentives were the characteristics of Bramante but the whole conception of space, which requires the viewer to look at from several points of view to capture its splendor, is new and unique. The side walls are made up of round-headed arches, of which only the entrance arch is open, the others are blind; they are alternated with canted corners in which shell-headed niches are framed between Corinthian pilasters. The frieze is embellished with garlands and ascending eagles. The subtle use of coloured marbles emphasizes the individual elements of the classical architecture. The use coloured stone was without precedent that time but became fashionable in the age of Counter-Reformation. 

The dome is decorated with mosaics executed by the Venetian Luigi da Pace after Raphael’s cartoon (1516).The frescos of Francesco Salviati between the windows of the drum depict Scenes of the Creation and the Original Sin (c. 1550). The same artist created the tondos of the spandrels with the representations of the Seasons. The lunettes are filled with the paintings of Raffaello Vanni (oil on wood): Aaron and David (1653).

The Chigi Chapel is replete with statues, bronze reliefs, paintings and marble revetments. The bronze bas-relief panel on the altar front is Christ and the Samaritan Woman, by Lorenzetto.


Andrea Palladio

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Andrea Palladio ( 30 November 1508 – 19 August 1580) was an Italian architect active in the Republic of Venice. Palladio, influenced by Roman and Greek architecture, primarily by Vitruvius, is widely considered to be the most influential individual in the history of architecture. All of his buildings are located in what was the Venetian Republic, but his teachings, summarized in the architectural treatise.



Villa La Rotonda


Villa La Rotonda is a Renaissance villa just outside Vicenza in northern Italy, and designed by Andrea Palladio. The proper name is Villa Almerico Capra Valmarana, but it is also known as La Rotonda, Villa Rotonda, Villa Capra and Villa Almerico. The name “Capra” derives from the Capra brothers, who completed the building after it was ceded to them in 1592. Along with other works by Palladio, the building is conserved as part of the World Heritage Site “City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto”.

The site selected was a hilltop just outside the city of Vicenza. Unlike some other Palladian villas, the building was not designed from the start to accommodate a working farm.

The design is for a completely symmetrical building having a square plan with four facades, each of which has a projecting portico. The whole is contained within an imaginary circle which touches each corner of the building and centres of the porticos. (illustration, left). The name La Rotonda refers to the central circular hall with its dome.  The building is not circular but rather the intersection of a square with a cross. Each portico has steps leading up, and opens via a small cabinet or corridor to the circular domed central hall. This and all other rooms were proportioned with mathematical precision according to Palladio’s own rules of architecture.

Building began in 1567. Neither Palladio nor the owner, Paolo Almerico, were to see the completion of the villa. Palladio died in 1580 and a second architect, Vincenzo Scamozzi, was employed by the new owners to oversee the completion. One of the major changes he made to the original plan was to modify the two-storey centre hall.

The interior design of the Villa was to be as wonderful, if not more so, than the exterior. Alessandro and Giovanni Battista Maganza and Anselmo Canera were commissioned to paint frescoes in the principal salons.

Among the four principal salons on the piano nobile are the West Salon (also called the Holy Room, because of the religious nature of its frescoes and ceiling), and the East Salon, which contains an allegorical life story of the first owner Paolo Almerico, his many admirable qualities portrayed in fresco.

The highlight of the interior is the central, circular hall, surrounded by a balcony and covered by the domed ceiling; it soars the full height of the main house up to the cupola, with walls decorated in trompe l’oeil. Abundant frescoes create an atmosphere that is more reminiscent of a cathedral than the principal salon of a country house.






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