Abbildungen der Seite

1336, his design for the campanile was carried out by Taddeo Gaddi, who died 1366. In 1355 Francisco Talenti, as capomaestro, was ordered to make a model to show how the chapels in the rear were to be disposed correct without any defect. On June 19, 1357, the foundations of a new and larger church were begun by Talenti. Andrea Orcagna, Bucozzo, Taddeo Gaddi and other architects of talent were consulted in turn, and in 1376 the last of the four arches was completed; the central tribune with its five chapels were completed 1407; and in 1421 the armatures (centering?) of the last tribune were taken down (The Times, May 12, 1887). This edifice, though commenced before the revival of the arts, is one of particular interest and instruction in the history of architecture, and one wherein is found a preparation for changing the style then prevalent into one sanctioned by the ancient principles of the art. Fig. 163. shows the plan, and fig. 164

Fig. 163. pl.AN or sANTA MARIA DE1. Floan. At Florex Cw.

the half section and half elevation of it. The walls are a'most entirely cased with marble. The whole length of it is 454 feet; from the pavement to the summit of the cross is nearly 387 feet; the transept is nearly 334 feet long; the height of the nave 153 feet, and that of the side aisles 963. In 1407 Brunelleschi was consulted with others as to the dome, but was not appointed until 1420; he nearly completed the drum at his death in 1446. The church was consecrated March 25, 1436, and the works ceased in 1474. The façade, destroyed in 1588, was rebuilt from a design by E. de Fabris, and unveiled in May 1886. The revival of architecture is so connected with the life of Brunelleschi, that a few passages in the latter will assist us in giving information on the former. He was born in 1377, and was intended by his father, Lippo Lippi, a notary of Florence, to succeed him in his own profession; but the inclination of the youth being bent towards the arts, the parent with reluctance placed him with a goldsmith, an occupation then so connected with sculpture that the greatest artists of the time applied themselves to the chasing and casting ornaments in the precious metals. Brunelleschi became skilful as a sculptor, but determined to devote himself to architecture, in which the field was then unoccupied. In company with Donatello he therefore visited Rome, and applied himself with ardour to the study of the ruins in the Eternal City, where he first began to meditate upon the scheme of uniting by a grand cupola the four arms of the Duomo at Florence. During his residence he settled in his mind the propor-ions of the orders of architecture from the classic examples which the city afforded, and studied the science of construction as practised by the ancients; from them he learnt that perfect accordance which always exists between what is useful and what is beautiful, both of which are reciprocally subordinate to each other. Here he discovered the principles of that nice equilibrium, equally requisite for the beauty no less than for the solidity of an edifice. He returned to Florence in 1407. In this year the citizens convoked an assembly of architects and engineers to deliberate upon some plan for finishing the Duomo. To this assembly Brunelleschi was invited, and gave his advice for raising the base drum or a tic story upon which the cupola should be placed. It is not inportant here to detail the jealousies of rivals which impeded his project; nor, when the

[ocr errors]

commission was at length confided to him, the disgraceful assignment to him of Lorenzo Ghiberti as a colleague, whose incapacity for such a task our architect soon made manifest. Suffice it to say, that before his death he had the satisfaction to see the cupola finished, with the exception of the exterior of the drum under the cupola; for whose decoration, as well as for the lantern with which he proposed to crown the edifice, he left designs, which, however, were lost. One of the directions he left on his death particularly insisted upon the necessity of following the model he had prepared for the lantern, and that it was essential that it should be constructed of large blocks of marble so as to prevent the cupola from opening; an advice which experience has since proved in other cases to be far from sound. This cupola is octagonal on the plan, as will be seen by reference to the figures, and is 138 feet 6 inches in diameter, and from the cornice of the drum to the eye of the dome of the height of 133 feet 3 inches. Before it nothing had appeared with which it could be fairly put in comparison. The domes of St. Mark and that at Pisa are far below it in grandeur and simplicity of construction. In size it only yields to St. Peter's at Rome, for which it is probable it served as a model to Michael Angelo; for in both, the inner and outer cupolas are connected in one arch at their springing. It is moreover well known that Buonarroti's admiration of it was so great that he used to say that to imitate it was indeed difficult, to surpass it impossible. Vasari's testimony of it shall close our account of this magnificent structure: –“Se puo dir certo chegli antichi, non andarono mai tanto alto con lor fabriche, ne si messono a un risico tanto grande, che eglino volessino combattere col cielo, come par veramente ch' ella combatta, veggendosi ella estollere in tant altezza che i monti intorno a Fiorenza paiono similia lei. Enel vero pare, che il cielo neabbia invidia poiche di continuo le saette tutto il giorno la percuotono.” It might be supposed that such a work was sufficient to occupy the whole of Brunelleschi's time; not so: the Duke Filippo Maria engaged him on the fortifications at Milan, besides which he was employed on several other military works; a proof of the great diversity of talent he possessed. It is, therefore, from the extensive employ he enjoyed, not only in Florence, but in many other parts of Italy, quite certain that he infused a new taste into its buildings, and that he is justly entitled to the title of the Restorer of Architecture in Europe. He died, and was buried in the church he had raised in 1444. He left a number of scholars, among whom Luca Fancelli and Michelozzo were perhaps the ablest. These pupils spread throughout Italy the effects of the vast change that had been thus begun; a taste for architecture was excited; its true principles became known; and in a short space of time, as if the matter had been one of arrangement between them, the illustrious house of Medici, the dukes of Milan, and the princes and nobility of the country contended who should most patronise its professors. The learned began to expound to artists the books of Vitruvius, the only writer among the ancients whose works on that subject have come down to us. 324. Leo Battista Alberti, of the ancient and illustrious family of the Alberti of Florence, succeeded Brunelleschi in carrying on the great change of which we have been speaking, and was, indeed, a great contributor to the art, not only by his literary labours on architecture, in which he displays profound erudition, knowledge of construction, and an intimate acquaintance with the works of the ancients, but also by the distribution, elegance, grace, and variety, which his designs exhibit. His book, De Re Edificatoria, is the foundation of all that has been since written on the art, and deserves careful perusal by every one who studies for the purpose of practice. We shall here present a short account of it, which, in imitation of Vitruvius, he divided into ten books. 325. The first book treats on the origin and utility of architecture; the choice of the soil and situation for placing buildings; the preparation, measurement, and suitable division according to their nature, of the edifices to be erected; of columns and pilasters; of the different kinds of roofs, doors, and windows, their number and size; of the different sorts of staircases and their landings; of the sewage or drains, and of suitable situations for them respectively. In the second book the subjects are, the choice of materials; the precautions to be taken before beginning a building; the models, of whatever description, that should be made; the choice of workmen; the trees fit for use, and the season in which they should be felled; the methods for preventing rot, and susceptibility of fire; of stone in its varieties; the different sorts of bricks, tiles, lime, sand, and mortar. The third book treats of construction; foundations according to the varieties of soil; encroachments; the carrying up and bond of masonry; rough and rubble work; on the different sorts of masonry; on the inlaying and facing of walls; on beams, joists, and the method of strengthening them; on floors, arches, and vaults; the covering of roofs, pavements, and the season for beginning and completing certain works. The fourth book is confined to the philosophy of the art, showing the causes which influence mankind in the adoption of modes of building according to the climate, the soil, and the habits or government of a people. It, however, treats of the proper position of a city; of the size to be given to it; of the form of the walls; of the customs and ceremonies of the ancients as applied to this point; of fortifications, bastions or towers, gates and ramparts; bridges, both of timber and stone; sewers, ports, harbours, and squares requisite in a city. The fifth book contains instructions for the erection of palaces for peaceable, and castles for absolute princes; for the houses required by a republic; large and small religious edifices; academies, public schools, hospitals, and palaces for senators. In it are given some hints on military and naval architecture, on farm buildings, and country houses. In the sixth book Alberti treats on architectural ornament, columns, and the method of adjusting their proportions. After some observations on the principles of beauty, on taste, and on the mode of improving it, he enters shortly on the history of architecture. These are followed by several chapters on the doctrine of mechanics, machines, the method of raising and working columns, polishing them, imitations in stucco and incrustation in thin layers, and matters of that nature. The seventh book continues the discussion on ornaments in architecture, but chiefly in respect of columns, showing the edifices in which the use of them is suitable; and, in imitation of Vitruvius in his directions relative to temples, our author dilates on buildings for ecclesiastical purposes. He shows what sorts of columns and pilasters are best suited to them, how far the employment of statues is proper, and how they should be sculptured. The eighth book is on roads and their decorations, tombs, pyramids, columns, altars, epitaphs, &c. In it he turns to the subjects of streets, cities, ornaments appropriate to gates, ports, arches, bridges, crossways, markets, public squares, walks, porticoes, theatres, amphitheatres, circi, libraries, colleges, baths, &c.; and the style in which public buildings should be constructed and decorated. The ninth book is a continuation of the preceding one; but in this he speaks in addition of the appropriate decoration of royal palaces, and of the ornaments respectively suitable to city and country dwellings, and of the paintings and sculpture that should be employed in them. In the tenth and last book the principal subject is the finding a supply of water for buildings both in town and country, and it closes with some useful hints on the aid of architecture to domestic economy. This truly great man constructed many works in different cities of Italy, some of which still remain to attest his skill. We are not to examine them with the eye of an architect flourishing even half a century later, though under that category they do him honour, but with the eye of an artist of his own day, and we shall then find our veneration for his memory cannot be too strongly expressed. In Florence he finished the Ruccellai palace, and built the choir of the Annunziata. At Mantua he built a church of singular beauty, consisting of a simple nave, crowned with a vault decorated with caissons, which rivals the works of the ancients. The additions he made to the church of St. Francesco at Rimini, a pointed church, though not in the same style, because it then came into disrepute, show an extraordinary aptitude for overcoming the most difficult and repulsive subjects with which an architect has to deal, and that work alone would stamp him as a man of genius. On his other acquirements it is not within our province to dwell; we shall merely sum them up by saying that he was poet, painter, sculptor, philosopher, mathematician, and antiquary. Such was Alberti, in whom was concentrated more refinement and learning than have hardly since appeared in a single individual of our species. The time of his death is not accurately known; some place it at the end of the fifteenth, and others at the beginning of the sixteenth century.


326. About the time that Alberti was engaged on the practice and literature of the art, a very extraordinary volume, written by a member of the Colonna family, was published by Aldus, at Venice, in 1499, folio. Its title is as follows:– Polyphili Hypnerotomachia, opus italicã linguá conscriptum ; ubi humana omnia non nisi somnium esse docet. This work deserves to be better known than we fear its rarity will ever permit. With the singularity of the plan, it unites the advantage of placing before the reader many elevated and elegant ideas, and, under the veil of a fable, of inculcating precepts of the greatest utility to artists and those that love the art. The testimony of Felibien in favour of this work runs so favourably, that we must transcribe it:—“Sans préjudice,” says that author, “du grand profit qu'on peut tirer de la lecture de Vitruve, et de l'étude qu'on doit faire de ses principes et de ses régles, il me faut pas moins examiner les tableaux curieux de plusieurs superbes édifices, monumens ou jardins, que l'imagination riante et féconde de l'auteur du Songe a missous les yeux de ses lecteurs.” When it is recollected that the manuscripts of Vitruvius were extremely rare, and that when Colonna wrote (1467) that author had not been translated,— when we reflect that in his descriptions he rears edifices as magnificent and regular as those which Vitruvius presents to us, we cannot withhold our surprise at the genius and penetration of the author. With him architecture appears in all her majesty. Pyramids, obelisks, mausolea, colossal statues, circi, hippodromi, amphitheatres, temples, aqueducts, baths, fountains, noble palaces, delicious gardens, all in the purest taste and of the most perfect proportion, attend in her train, and administer to the pomp with which the author attires her. With him all these ideal productions of the art were not merely the result of an ardent imagination, but were the fruit of an intimate acquaintance with its rules, which he explains to his reader, and inspires him at the same time with a taste for the subject of his pages. Ile often breaks out against the gross ignorance of the architects of his day, and endeavours to inculcate in them the sound principles of the art. He demonstrates that it is not enough that an edifice possesses stability and solidity, but that it must be impressed with a character suitable to the purpose for which it is destined; that it is not enough that it be well decorated, but that the ornaments used arise from necessity, or at the least from utility. Architecture thus treated in fiction was much more pleasantly studied than it would have been by mere application to the dry rules of Vitruvius. The impression made by the work was increased by the poetic glow with which the precepts were delivered; the allegories it contained warmed the imaginations of a people easily excited, and Italy soon saw realised what Polyphilus had seen in a dream. This work is decorated with wood cngravings of singular beauty, in which the details and accessories are strictly classical; it is written with great spirit and elegance, and we are not amazed at the magical effect which, with the accompaniment of Alberti's book above mentioned, it every where produced.

327. The Italian school, which ultimately appropriated and adapted the ancient Roman orders and their details to comparatively modern habits, was for a long while engrafted on or amalgamated with what is,called Gothic. We here (fig. 165.) place before the reader an instance of this, in the celebrated Loggia at Florence, designed by Orgagna. The same feeling appears, indeed, in what Brunelleschi did in his Duomo, and in many other buildings in Florence, in Pisa, Sienna, and other cities. Brunelleschi doubtless made a strong effort to emancipate himself altogether from the mixture of two discordant styles, and in some measure succeeded. Still there continued, as is evident in the Ricardi, Strozzi, and other palaces in Florence, a lingering love for the mixture, which the architects had great apparent difficulty in shaking off. It is, however, extraordinary that with all this lingering love for the ancient style, in which there was much littleness, when the architects of this period came to the crowning members of their edifices, they placed on them such massive and finely composed cornices that the other parts are quite lost; and in this member it is evident they were influenced by those feelings of unity and breadth that gave so much value to the best works of the ancients.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

328. The revival of the arts in Italy was vastly assisted by the commerce and riches of the country; and with the decay of that commerce, nearly 300 years afterwards, their palmy days were no more: from that time they have never thriven in the country that gave them birth. It is our intention, in this view of Italian architecture, to consider it under the three schools which reigned in Italy — 1. The Florentine; 2. The Roman; 3. The Venetian.

329. 1. Florentine School. Climate and the habits of a people are the principal agents in creating real style in architecture; but these are in a great measure controlled, or it is perhaps more correct to say modified, by the materials which a country supplies. Often, indeed, these latter restrict the architect, and influence the lightness or massiveness of the style he adopts. The quarries of Tuscany furnish very large blocks of stone, lying so close to the surface that they are without other difficulty than that of carriage obtained, and removed to the spots where they are wanted. This is probably a circumstance which will account for the solidity, monotony, and solemnity which are such commanding features in the Florentine school; and which, if we may judge from the colossal ruins still existing, similarly prevailed in the buildings of ancient Etruria. In later times another cause contributed to the continuation of the practice, and that was the necessity of affording places of defence for the upper ranks of society in a state where insurrection continually occurred. Thus the palaces of the Medici, of the Pitti, of the Strozzi, and of other families, served almost equally for fortresses as for palaces. The style seems to have interdicted the use of columns in the façades, and on this account the stupendous cornices that were used seem actually necessary for the purpose of imparting grandeur to the composition. In the best and most celebrated examples of their palaces, such as the Strozzi, Pandolfini, and others in Florence, and the Picolomini palace at Sienna, the cornices are proportioned to the whole height of the building considered as an order, notwithstanding the horizontal subdivisions and small interposed cornices that are practised between the base and the crowning member. The

« ZurückWeiter »