Filippo Brunelleschi

Brunelleschi, Filippo (fēlēpˈpō brōnĕl-lĕsˈkē) [key], 1377–1446, first great architect of the Italian Renaissance, a Florentine by birth. Trained as sculptor and goldsmith, he designed a trial panel, The Sacrifice of Isaac (1401; Bargello, Florence) for the bronze doors of the Florence baptistery. The commission, however, was won by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Thereafter, Brunelleschi became more interested in architectural planning. He made several trips to Rome, where he devoted himself to the study of classical buildings. About 1420 he drew two panels in perspective (now lost) that had important consequences for both architectural and art theory. The Church of San Lorenzo, Florence, reveals his systematic use of perspective in the careful proportioning of the interior structure and in the articulation of spatial volumes. In the Ospedale degli Innocenti (foundling hospital; 1419–45), Brunelleschi introduced a motif that was widely imitated during the Renaissance—a series of arches supported on columns. In 1420 he began to build the dome for the cathedral in Florence. This octagonal ribbed dome is one of the most celebrated and original domical constructions in architectural history. Brunelleschi's other works include the churches of Santa Maria degli Angeli and Santo Spirito and the Pazzi Chapel, all in Florence. His designs exhibit beauty of detail and elegance, as well as mastery of construction.

See studies by A. Mantonio (1970), F. D. Prager (1970), I. Hyman, ed. (1973), and R. King (2001); biography by A. Mannetti (tr. 1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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