Italy's Renaissance 03: Florence Architecture cover

Italy's Renaissance 03: Florence Architecture

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The Quattrocento or the 15th century in Florence was marked by the development of the Renaissance style of architecture, which represented a conscious revival and development of ancient Greek and Roman elements. The rules of Renaissance architecture were first formulated and put into execution in 15th-century Florence, whose buildings subsequently served as an inspiration to architects throughout Italy and Western Europe.
The Renaissance style of architecture emerged in Florence not as a slow evolution from preceding styles but rather as a conscious development put into motion by architects seeking to revive a golden age.
Only one question at the end!





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Italy's Renaissance 03: Florence Architecture

Architecture

LEARNING OBJECTIVE

Define the importance and specific style of 15th century Florentine architecture

TERMS

quattrocento The 1400s, the fifteenth-century Renaissance Italian period.

entablature All that part of a classical temple above the capitals of the columns other than the roof

pilaster A rectangular column that projects partially from the wall to which it is attached; it gives the appearance of a support, but is only for decoration.

Palazzo Vecchio from Uffizi Gallery

Palazzo Vecchio from Uffizi Gallery

Image by Chris Wee, (CC BY 2.0)

Key Points

1) The Renaissance style of architecture emerged in Florence not as a slow evolution from preceding styles but rather as a conscious development put into motion by architects seeking to revive the golden age of classical antiquity.

2) The Renaissance style eschewed the complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings, and placed emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry, and regularity of parts.

3) 15th-century architecture in Florence popularized the use of classical antique features such as orderly arrangements ofcolumns, pilasters, and lintels, semicircular arches, and hemispherical domes.

4) Filippo Brunelleschi was the first to develop the Renaissance view of architecture. His enormous brick dome that covers the central space of Florence's Duomo or cathedral was the first dome erected since classical Rome and became aubiquitous feature in Renaissance churches.

5) The buildings of the early Renaissance in Florence expressed a new sense of light, clarity, and spaciousness that reflected the enlightenment and clarity of mind glorified by the philosophy of Humanism.

Conscious Development

The Quattrocento or the 15th century in Florence was marked by the development of the Renaissance style of architecture,

which represented a conscious revival and development of ancient Greek and Roman elements. The rules of Renaissance architecture were first formulated and put into execution in 15th-century Florence, whose buildings subsequently served as an inspiration to architects throughout Italy and Western Europe.

The Renaissance style of architecture emerged in Florence not as a slow evolution from preceding styles but rather as a conscious development put into motion by architects seeking to revive a golden age. These architects were sponsored by wealthy patrons including the powerful Medici family and the Silk Guild, and approached their craft from an organized and scholarly perspective that coincided with a general revival of classical learning.

View of Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral)

Image by Bruce Stokes, (CC BY 2.0)

View of Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral)

Brunelleschi, in the building of the dome of Florence Cathedral in the early 15th-century, not only transformed the building and the city, but also the role and status of the architect.

Brunelleschi's Dome

The Renaissance style deliberately eschewed the complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings whose architects relied on intuition

rather than mathematics. Instead, it placed emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry, and regularity of parts as demonstrated in classical Roman architecture, and made considerable use of classical antique features such as orderly arrangements of columns, pilasters, and lintels, semicircular arches, and hemispherical domes.

The person generally credited with originating the Renaissance view of architecture is Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), whose first major commission--the enormous brick dome that covers the central space of Florence's Duomo or cathedral--was also perhaps the architecturally most significant. The Duomo was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Brunelleschi.

The Laws of Physics and Mathematics

While it retains the Gothic pointed arch and the Gothic ribs of the original 13th-century design, its dome is structurally influenced

by the great domes of Ancient Rome such as the Pantheon, and it is often described as the first building of the Renaissance.

The dome is made of red brick and was ingeniously constructed without supports, using a deep understanding of the laws of physics and mathematics. It remains the largest masonry dome in the world and was such an unprecedented success at its time that the dome became an indispensable element in church and even secular architecture thereafter.

 Architectural Drawing of the Dome

Artist: Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli

Architectural Drawing of the Dome

Architectural drawing of the dome of Florence Cathedral, made nearly a century after construction of the dome.

Leon Battista Alberti

Another key figure in the development of Renaissance architecture in Florence was Leon Battista Alberti (1402 - 1472),

an important Humanist theoretician and designer, whose book on architecture De re aedificatoria was the first architectural treatise of the Renaissance. Alberti designed two of Florence's best known 15th-century buildings: the Palazzo Rucellai and the facade of the church of Santa Maria Novella. The first was a palatial townhouse built 1446-51, which typified the newly developing features of Renaissance architecture, including a classical ordering of columns over three levels and the use of pilasters and entablatures in proportional relationship to each other.

Scrolls Without Precedent

The facade of Santa Maria Novella (1456-70) also showed similar Renaissance innovations based on classical Roman architecture.

Alberti attempted to bring the ideals of humanist architecture and proportion to the structure while creating harmony with the existing medieval facade, and his contributions included a classically inspired frieze decorated with squares, four white-green pilasters, and a round window crowned by a pediment with the Dominican solar emblem, and flanked on both sides by S-shaped scrolls. While the pediment and the frieze were inspired by Roman architecture, the scrolls were new and without precedent in antiquity, and ended up becoming a very popular architectural feature in churches all over Italy.

The buildings of the early Renaissance in Florence expressed a new sense of light, clarity, and spaciousness that reflected the enlightenment and clarity of mind glorified by the philosophy of Humanism.

Santa Maria Novella

Image by Georges Jansoone, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Santa Maria Novella

The façade of Santa Maria Novella, completed by Leon Battista Alberti in 1470.

Question 1

Which of the following does NOT apply to 15th century Florentine architecture?

A) It relied on intuition rather than mathematics

B) It represented a conscious revival and development of ancient Greek and Roman elements

C) It eschewed the complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings

D) It placed emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry, and regularity of parts

Answer

A) It relied on intuition rather than mathematics

Originally posted to Boundless

Pictures Added

(CC BY-SA 4.0)