Architecture in Renaissance Italy
The idea of “Renaissance”, at the same time, the movement to revive ancient Greco-Roman culture, grew naturally in 14th and 15th century Florence, Italy. Leaders of the Italian merchant republics educated their young as humanists, so that humanism spread to the arts and architecture by emulating the all’antica, ancient details from Greco-Roman culture. In Florence, beside the artists and architects copied antiquity, they were also impatient to discover the underlying principles of design to apply their models. There, architects discovered harmonious proportions which are linked the classical orders. Together with influences of humanism, new built palaces and churches changed the character of Italian cities and gave them a more uniform scale and geometric basis. Meantime, painters guided the perspective vision, a scientific mode of seeing that put all the parts in relation to whole. The emergence of perspective vision accompanied the development of the principal public space of Italian city.
During the 14th century, the wealthiest merchant families spent their collective resources for the construction of great civic projects, including the public palace (now called Palazzo Vecchio), the new cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo), the public grain marker of Or San Michele (later turned into a church), the city walls, and the bridges.
Most public works in late 14th century Florence, used rounded arches, symmetrical places bays, and harmonious proportions. Plus, the Florentines added a new way of seeing, treating buildings as freestanding objects in proportional scale.
Florence’s greatest civic project, the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, constructed in 1296. It has a simple Gothic style with its quadripartite ribbed vaults spanning the nave and two side aisles. A few years later, its length of the nave was extended and its area was outlined for a huge octagonal dome over the crossing. The dome intended to surpass the domes of the rival cities of Pisa and Siena. In 1376, the commune wanted the dimensions of the cupola to be as wide as the Pantheon in Rome and nearly twice its height. The architect, Filippo Brunelleschi took charge of the project. He built the new dome without falsework (temporary framework structures used to support a building during its construction), and by contriving a structure that supported itself during the process of construction. Filippo Brunelleschi conserved the dome’s pointed arches and ribs from the Gothic program of a few generations earlier, he added several all’antica motifs to exterior. There were rounded tribunes placed between the octagonal apses. Each of these had five shell-capped niches were flanked by pairs of Corinthian half columns and they were demonstrating Brunelleschi’s familiarity with ancient monuments. So, the cupola were containing innovation from Gothic structure while also displaying new elements of the revival of ancient Roman style. Continue reading 1350-1500: Architecture in Renaissance Italy & Early Ottoman Architecture