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Filippo Brunelleschi

1377 - 1446 (69)








A gripping non-technical account of Brunelleschi's Dome and the surrounding medieval political thrills and spills.


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This Könemann monologue, containing superb illustrations, is sadly now not in print - but Könemann books are starting to reappear under new owners, so you never know.  Meantime try Amazon UK below.


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Filippo Brunelleschi ("Pippo") - goldsmith, inventor of the mathematics of perspective in painting, inventive engineering genius, secretive control freak but above all an architect, and in fact the first well known "named" architect.


Brunelleschi first catapulted to architectural fame in the 1420s with his design and subsequent building management of the Spedale degli Innocenti (Foundling Hospital) between San Marco and the Duomo.  The elegant colonnaded facade was a completely new look, as was much of the hospital design.


Earlier, after losing the 1403 Florence Baptistery door competition to Ghiberti, "Pippo" went travelling, and on returning to Florence produced the mathematics of perspective in painting (1434) - demonstrated by a famous (now lost) painting of the Baptistery which was designed to be held in front and facing away from the face of an observer standing at the spot where the picture was painted. When the latter peeked through a pinhole aperture in the painting at a mirror reflecting it back, it was said to be impossible to distinguish picture from reality (except the former was back to front!).


Brunelleschi was the architect of the great Florentine churches of San Lorenzo and Santa Spirito, and the Pazzi Chapel at Santa Croce (his favourite).  But his immortal and most visible achievement was designing and building what is still the world's largest masonry dome (for the Florence Duomo - more photos) (and without the use of any internal scaffolding / supports - see Chronology Part One). 



Above:  Brunelleschi's death mask (in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo)


Left:  Relief portrait of Brunelleschi on his tomb in the Duomo in Florence by Lazzaro Cavalcanti (aka Buggiano) c1446




Masaccio paints Masolino, himself, Alberti and Brunelleschi in a crowd scene in the Brancacci Chapel


An unknown artist in Florence (ca 1500 - 1565) paints Brunelleschi as one of five famous men, subtitled "The Fathers of Perspective", which is in the Louvre (Paris).


Spedale degli Innocenti (Foundling Hospital) - the first Renaissance facade.



Brunelleschi's Dome


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