Santa Maria Novella, Florence

(1279-early 1300s; façade c. 1456-1470)
   Built to function as the mother church of the Dominican Order in Florence and partially financed by the Florentine State, Santa Maria Novella features a traditional Latin cross plan with square apse flanked by two square chapels at either side. The central bays are also squared to allow for large, open spaces that can accommodate sizable crowds during the mass and on feast days. The aisle bays are half the size of the central bays and contain a number of small chapels allocated to wealthy Florentines for funerary purposes and private devotion. The building's elevation consists of a nave arcade and clerestory of equal height, this last featuring oculi (round openings) instead of the customary squared windows. The repetition of geometric forms and mathematical relations lend to the structure its symmetry and harmonious proportions, while the four-partite vault allows for effective acoustics so the mass may be heard from all parts of the church. The façade, financed by Giovanni Rucellai, a wealthy Florentine merchant, is by Leon Battista Alberti and became the prototype for Baroque church façades of the late 16th and 17th centuries. It was conceived as a series of square modules of equal size, with two forming the lower story and one centered above them. A volute (ornamental scroll) at either side of the upper square visually unifies the two levels. In conceiving his design, Alberti utilized the Roman principles of order, balance, and symmetry reintroduced in the 15th century by Filippo Brunelleschi, thereby updating the modular approach to building of the unknown Late Gothic architect who designed the rest of the structure.
   See also Chiostro Verde, Santa Maria Novella, Florence; Guidalotti chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence; Strozzi chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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  • Guidalotti chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence — (Spanish chapel; 1348 1355)    Used by the Dominican monks who lived in the monastery adjacent to the Church of Santa Maria Novella as their chapter house, this chapel was the burial site for members of the merchant Guidalotti family who charged… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Strozzi chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence — (1355 1357)    The wealthy banker Tomasso Strozzi commissioned Andrea Orcagna and his brother Nardo del Cione to provide the decorations for his family chapel at Santa Maria Novella, the principal Dominican church of Florence. As the Strozzi… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Chiostro Verde, Santa Maria Novella, Florence — (Green Cloister)    The Chiostro Verde owes its name to the frescoes painted on its walls by Paolo Uccello and assistants in a green monochrome palette with terra verde (green earth), a pigment with a high iron oxide content. Begun in 1430, these …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Holy Trinity, Santa Maria Novella, Florence — (1427)    Painted by Masaccio utilizing one point linear perspective, the work is one of the earliest examples to make use of this technique. The scene unfolds in a chapel that convincingly recedes into space, with the vanishing point in the… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

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  • Basilica of Santa Maria Novella — Santa Maria Novella is a church in Florence, Italy, situated just across the main railway station which shares its name. Chronologically, it is the first great basilica in Florence, and is the city s principal Dominican church.The church, the… …   Wikipedia

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