The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance: How Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World
Paul Robert Walker
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A lively and intriguing tale of the competition between two artists, culminating in the construction of the Duomo in Florence, this is also the story of a city on the verge of greatness, and the dawn of the Renaissance, when everything artistic would change.
Florence′s Duomo - the dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral - is one of the most enduring symbols of the Italian Renaissance, an equal in influence and fame to Leonardo and Michaelangelo′s works. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the temperamental architect who rediscovered the techniques of mathematical perspective. He was the dome′s ′inventor′, whose secret methods for building remain a mystery as compelling to architects as Fermat′s Last Theorem once was to mathematicians. Yet Brunelleschi didn′t direct the construction of the dome alone. He was forced to share the commission with his arch-rival, the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, whose ′Paradise Doors′ are also masterworks. This is the story of these two men - a tale of artistic genius and individual triumph.
art, but the stories have a more personal truth beyond such interpretation. In 1550, almost seventy years after Manetti and over a century after the events he described, Giorgio Vasari included biographies of Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, and Masaccio in his first edition of Lives of the Artists. Considered the first artistic historian, Vasari is, in many cases, our earliest source for the life of a given artist. For Brunelleschi, however, Vasari essentially rewrote the Vita in more
knowing how they would build the great cupola that would crown the house of God. And yet throughout these years, as the pace of construction ebbed and flowed with the effects of famines, plagues, and war, as details of construction were debated ad infinitum, there is not a single documented instance of anyone expressing doubt that the cupola could and would be built. Such an approach, and such faith, would be unthinkable today, when every building project is meticulously planned in advance. The
Brunelleschi’s new model as it was being built. The original wooden model, while showing the general plan, was not enough to convince the Opera of Filippo’s ability to construct the cupola without centering, so this time he built a larger model out of full-sized bricks, probably on a scale of around 1:8, more than twice the height of a man. It was apparently built in a workyard belonging to the Opera, and it must have stood on piers, so that the workers and officials could step inside. Along with
see Lorenzo as a working-class hero who represented the middle-class guildsmen, the same class that ruled the city for four years after the ill-fated Ciompi rebellion of 1378. This class continued to influence Florence well into the Quattrocento, with the support of certain wealthy anti-Guelf families, and the fact that they were anti-Guelf was enough to cause suspicions of Ghibelline sympathies. In Florence, Ghibelline meant German which meant Gothic and all that it implied. In his art, Lorenzo
years to develop an animosity. Sometime in late summer or early fall, exactly the time when Lorenzo was off the payroll, Giovanni stepped to the forefront of the opposition, submitting designs and a model to the Opera del Duomo to illustrate his two major complaints regarding the progress of the cupola: that Brunelleschi was altering the planned curvature of the dome, and that there would not be enough light inside the cathedral. The lack of light was the same concern he had raised during the