1902 Encyclopedia > Filippo Brunelleschi

Filippo Brunelleschi
Italian architect

FILIPPO BRUNELLESCHI, (1377-1446), one of the greatest Italian architects, the reviver in Italy of the Roman or Classic style, was born at Florence in 1377. His father, a notary, had destined him for his own profession, but observing the boy's talent for all sorts of mechanism, placed him in the guild of goldsmiths. Filippo quickly became a skilled workman, and, eagerly desirous to excel, perfected himself in the knowledge of sculpture, perspective, and geometry,—whatever, in short, was useful for the architectural art, to which he found himself attracted. He designed some portions of houses in Florence, and in 1401 he was one of the competitors for the design of the gates of the baptistery of San Giovanni. He was unsuccessful, though his work obtained praise, and he soon afterwards set out for Rome. He studied hard, and resolved to do what he could to revive the older classical style, which had died out in Italy. In 1407 he returned to Florence, just at the time when it was resolved to attempt the completion of the cathedral church of Santa Maria del Fiore. Brunelleschi's plan for effecting this by a cupola was approved, but it was not till 1419, and after innumerable disputes, that the work was finally entrusted to him. At first he was hampered by his colleague Ghiberti, of whom he skilfully got rid. He did not live to see the completion of his great work, and the lantern on the summit was put up not altogether in accordance with the instructions and plans left by him. The great cupola, one of the triumphs of architecture, exceeds in some measurements that of St Peter's at Rome, and has a more massive and striking appearance. Besides the masterpiece Brunelleschi executed numerous other works, among the most remarkable of which are the Pitti Palace at Florence, and the churches of San Lorenzo and Spirito Santo, and the still more elegant Capella dei Pazza. He died in 1446, and was buried in the great church of Santa Maria. See ARCHITECTURE, vol. ii. p. 436.

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