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Filippo Brunelleschi

Filippo Brunelleschi

Brunelleschi was a goldsmith in a Florentine workshop and was a member of the goldsmiths' guild, although his interest in mathematics led him to architecture. In 1401 Brunelleschi made himself known by winning the competition for the second door of Baptistery "ex aequo" with Lorenzo Ghiberti. Brunelleschi was not happy with the decision and allowed Ghiberti to have the commission. Ghiberti finished those doors and many years later won the commission to build another set of doors for the bapistery which came to be know as the famous "Gates of Paradise."

A rivalry between the two began that would last for the rest of their lives.One incident between the two men occurred when both served on the council overseeing the construction of Santa Maria del Fiore.Brunelleschi worked and studied in Rome with his friend Donatello, where he learned about Classical architecture. It is also rumored that he travelled to Constantinople before its fall to the Ottoman Turks to study the structure of the Hagia Sophia. His interests extended to mathematics and engineering and the study of ancient invented hydraulic machinery and elaborate clockwork, none of which survive. He also had a brief and disastrous cameo in the world of shipmaking, when he built a monstrous ship called Il Badalone to transport marble to Florence from Pisa up the Arno River.

The ship sank on its first voyage, along with a sizable chunk of Brunelleschi's personal fortune.Brunelleschi is remembered as an architect who established new classic canons of serene rhythms, clear geometry, and symmetry, often using simple materials: gray pietra serena and whitewashed plaster. When he first entered his architecture field, he was frequently thrown out of meetings due to his temper. He was rescued from bankruptcy by the Medici family, who were impressed by his designs and contracted him to design and build projects for them.

Besides accomplishments in architecture, Brunelleschi is also credited with inventing one-point linear perspective, which revolutionized painting and allowed for naturalistic styles to develop as the Renaissance digressed from the stylized figures of medieval art.

Brunelleschi's dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.In 1418, a competition was announced for proposals on how to bridge the central crossing of the cathedral in Florence (Santa Maria del Fiore). Brunelleschi's bid was backed by the then less important family, the Medici, who stood to benefit hugely from the completion of the dome. His design, which offered to build the cupola in circular cone-shaped courses of brickwork forming two shells - one light outer shell - and the main shell (the scaffold) so thick that it contains a closed circle without a framework of scaffolding, won the competition, and in 1423 he was put in complete charge of the Duomo's building works.

The internal dome is made with 16 ribs to take the pressure off the dome. As well, the dome is made of brick with the herring bone style to take additional stress off the dome. Its completion took most of his life. The main structure was finished by 1434. The four tribunes in the apse were completed in 1438. The dome was only completed with a lantern in 1461 by Michelozzo. Andrea del Verrocchio added the gilt copper ball in 1496. The church's dedication took place on 25 March 1436, accompanied by a grand ceremony; music for the occasion, the motet Nuper rosarum flores, was written by Guillaume Dufay.

While construction was proceeding, Brunelleschi designed and built the Pazzi Chapel in the cloister of the church of Santa Croce, which was actually begun in 1442 after long negotiations. The chapel, where members of the Pazzi family were to be entombed, was meant to function as a chapter house for the Franciscans of Santa Croce. Brunelleschi's ribbed hemispherical dome is expressed on the exterior as a low tiled flattened conical roof on a low plain drum with small oculus windows. Inside, under the dome, the chapel is almost a cube, extended by barrel-vaulted bays on two sides. Pilasters and hemicyclic arches articulate the walls. The sedate materials are white stucco and the gray stone Florentines call pietra serena.

Ospedale degli Innocenti, FlorenceThe Duomo was not Brunelleschi's sole achievement in architecure; he also designed other famous buildings. The Ospedale degli Innocenti (The foundling children's hospital or orphanage) started 1419 is considered as the first real renaissance building. The hospital, which features a loggia that people could take refuge from the weather under, was built and managed by the silk guild of Florence. Brunelleschi's design, which was based on Classical styles with simple rhythm, held simple ratios in the columns and Roman arches. If a horizontal line is drawn from the top of each column, a square is created out of the height and width of the column and the distance from one column to the next. The diameter of each arch is also the same distance as the height of each square. Above each column is a tondo style, terra cotta sculpture, which were added after Brunelleschi's initial design.

Other major works:Basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze, started 1419 Santo Spirito, 1434

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