Santo Spirito, Florence

(beg. 1436)
   Built by Filippo Brunelleschi, Santo Spirito is modeled after the Early Christian basilicas of Rome. Gone are the Gothic elements of the churches built in Florence before Brunelleschi's time, such as Santa Croce (beg. 1294) and Santa Maria Novella (1279-early 1300s), including the pointed arches and four-partite vaults. Instead, the church presents a simple three-aisled system and a flat roof. In the place of the Gothic compound piers (piers with columns attached to them), Brunelleschi's nave arcade is supported by Corinthian columns. To increase the height of the structure, he added impost blocks (flat slabs that sit above the capital of a column) to the arcade, a Byzantine feature also used on Italian soil in places such as Ravenna, once part of the Byzantine Empire. Brunelleschi covered the interior walls with white stucco trimmed with pietra serena, characteristic of his architecture and used by subsequent Florentine masters until the 19th century. Here, Brunelleschi utilized a Pythagorean approach to architecture. Consequently, the width of the nave is the same as the height of its arcade, and the aisle bays are half the height and width of the nave bays. By applying this system, Brunelleschi was able to create a harmonious, rational design that follows the ancient Roman principles of construction he learned when he measured the antique monuments of Rome during a visit at the onset of his career.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

Look at other dictionaries:

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