published, with more or less fidelity to those of existing Roman monuments, in which attempts were made to adhere to the rules laid down by Vitruvius. In Rome and other parts of Italy, where ancient monuments or portions of them still remained in situ, architects could study their details and base their designs on them, but in other countries they were bound to follow the copybook, and thus they lost that originality and freedom of design which characterizes the earlier work of the Renaissance.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that the publications of Vignola and Palladio, based as they were on the remains of ancient Rome, then much better preserved than at the present day, tended to maintain a high standard in the employment of the Classic orders, with correct proportions and details; so much so, that in referring to the influence which those works exerted from the middle of the 16th century in France and Spain, and during the 17th and 18th centuries in England and to a certain extent in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, it is generally spoken of as the introduction of the pure Italian style. The tendency, however, of such hard and fast rules leads eventually to an excess in the opposite direction, and the works of Borromini in Italy and Churriguera in Spain in the middle of the 17th century resulted in the production of what is generally referred to as the Rococo style. This style was fostered in France by the attempts to reproduce, externally and in stone, ornamental decoration of a type which is only fitted for internal work in stucco, and in Germany and the Netherlands by reproductions of fantastic designs published in copybooks, which led to the bastard style of the Zwinger palace in Dresden and the Dutch architecture of the 18th century. Vignola’s work on the five orders was published in 1563, and Palladio’s in 1570; they were preceded by a publication of Serlio’s in 1540, giving examples of various architectural compositions, and to him is probably due the introduction of the pure Italian style in the Louvre in 1546. They were followed by other authors, as Scamozzi in Italy, Philibert de l’Orme in France, and, at a later date, Sir William Chambers in England.
The term given to the earlier Renaissance or transition work in Italy is the Cinque-cento style, though sometimes that title is given to buildings erected in the 16th century; in France it is known as the François I. style, in Spain as the Plateresque or Silversmiths’ style, and in England as the Elizabethan and Jacobean styles.
There is still another and very important difference to be noted between the styles of the middle ages and those of the Renaissance. Although the names of the designers in the former are occasionally known and have been handed down to us, they were only partially responsible, as the works were carried out by other craftsmen working on traditional lines, whereas in the latter they are of much more importance because of the independent thought and study of the individual; and though to a certain extent the development of each man’s work may have been influenced by others working in the same direction, his special object was to acquire personal fame and by his own fancy or predilection to produce what he conceived to be an original work peculiar to himself. Consequently in our description the name of the architect who designed a particular building, as well as the date of its erection, are necessarily given to show the progress made In his studies or otherwise. (R. P. S.)
Renaissance Architecture in Italy
In the styles hitherto described a chronological order has been followed, as far as possible, in order to show the gradual development of the style; that course is adopted here to a certain extent, when dealing with the Renaissance, though the introduction of the personal element, to which reference has been made, brings in a change of some importance. Henceforth the career of the individual has to be taken into consideration, and at times it may be an advantage when describing a building by an architect of eminence to mention other works by him, and so depart from the chronological sequence.
Ecclesiastical.—The classic revival in Italy, though foreshadowed in other branches of art, as in painting and sculpture, and also to a marked degree in literature, was virtually introduced by one great man, Filippo Brunelleschi of Florence, who, trained as a sculptor, and disappointed with his want of success in the competition held in 1403 for the bronze gates of the baptistery at Florence, determined to devote himself to architecture, possibly in the hope that he might some day be able to solve the great problem of erecting over the crossing of Arnolfo di Lapo’s great cathedral the dome projected by the latter but never executed. Having spent some years in Rome, Brunelleschi returned to his native town about 1410, with a profound knowledge of classic architecture and of Roman construction, as shown in the Pantheon, the thermae, Colosseum and other remains, then in much better preservation than at the present day. Some years passed in the production of various schemes and in deliberations with the council of Florence, but eventually in 1420 the completion of the cathedral was entrusted to him, and he undertook to construct the dome without centreing, and to raise it on a drum so as to give it greater importance than Arnolfo had contemplated, as shown in the fresco of the Spanish chapel of Santa Maria Novella, Florence. The dome as projected by Brunelleschi was of considerable size, being 130 ft. in diameter and 135 ft. from the cornice to the eye of the dome, including the drum on which it was raised; it was octagonal in plan, and built with an inner and outer casing partly in brick, with angle and two intermediate ribs on each face, which were in stone. The construction of the dome was completed in 1434; but the lantern, built on the basis of the model he had made, was not carried out till 1462, some years after his death. Brunelleschi’s other works in Florence consisted of the church of San Lorenzo, which he rebuilt in 1425 after a fire, and the church of Santo Spirito (1433), a very remarkable building, the design of which was based on the medieval basilicas of Rome, with such modifications in plan and section as his knowledge of ancient Roman work suggested. This church consists of nave, transept and choir, with aisles all round, the centre or crossing being covered with a dome on pendentives, which henceforth became the chief characteristic in all the Renaissance churches. Brunelleschi’s earliest work was the Pazzi chapel, an original conception which is more remarkable for the pure classic feeling and refinement in all its details than for the design. The weakness of the archivolt round the central archway, and the mass of panelled wall carried on columns (far too slight in their dimensions), detract seriously from the effect of the façade; internally the structural function of the pilasters is not sufficiently maintained, and instead of a simple hemispherical dome, as in the cathedral, a quasi-Gothic type was built, with twelve ribs and scalloped cells, which destroys its dignity.
Brunelleschi was followed by another great Florentine architect, Leon Battista Alberti, who was also a great mathematician and a scholar, and further promoted the study of classic architecture by writing a treatise in Latin, Opus praestantissimum de re aedificatoria, which was based partly on that of Vitruvius and was published in 1485, after his death, accompanied by illustrations. The first building with which he was connected was the church of San Francesco at Rimini, to which in 1440 he added the front. In this he was evidently inspired by the Roman triumphal arch in that city, and his interpretation of it, to meet the requirements in its façade which were imposed upon him by the existing nave, was admirable. Unfortunately the principal front was never completed, but on the south side he designed a series of recesses to hold the sarcophagi containing the remains of the friends of his client, Sigismondo Malatesta, the effect of which is simple and grand. Alberti’s largest work, the church of Sant’ Andrea at Mantua (1472), in which the nave, transept and choir are all covered with barrel vaults, recalls the vaulted corridors of the Colosseum. There are no aisles, but a series of rectangular chapels on each side, the division walls of which act as buttresses to resist the thrust of the great vault. The lofty arched openings to the chapels, separated by Corinthian pilasters with entablature supporting the coffered vault and a central dome (since rebuilt), complete the structure, which has served since as the model for all the Renaissance churches of the same type. The principal front is not satisfactory, as it takes no cognizance of the width of the nave, and the side doors have no use or meaning; here Alberti seems to have been led astray in his triumphal arch treatment, which is inferior to his scheme for the church at Rimini.
In 1462 Michelozzo, another Florentine architect, built the chapel of St Peter at the east end of the church of Sant’ Eustorgio, Milan. Externally it has little attraction, but internally the dome, with its magnificent frieze of winged angels in relief with a painted background of arcades and other accessories, is the most beautiful composition of the Renaissance. Michelozzo’s first work was the Dominican monastery and church of San Marco at Florence (1439—1452), but he is better known for his secular work, to which we shall return.
The next great architect chronologically is Bramante d’ Urbino, to whom was entrusted the commencement of the church of St Peter at Rome. His first important work was the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione at Todi (1472), which consists of a square nave with immense semicircular apses, one on each side. The nave is covered with a dome raised on a drum, and carried on pendentives, and the apses with hemispherical vaults butt against the nave walls and form externally a very fine group. Bramante was the architect of the chapel in the cloisters of San Pietro-in-Montorio, Rome (1472),