Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) and the Pazzi Chapel

The Pazzi Chapel, part of the Basilica di Sante Croce
The Pazzi Chapel, part of the Basilica di Sante Croce

In my last post (here) I referred to Filippo Brunelleschi as one of the two winners of the 1401 competition to design new doors for the Baptistry of the Duomo. However he declined to work with Ghiberti on the resulting project and his career took off in other directions, primarily as the dominant architectural presence in Florence in the first half of the C15.

The most famous of his architectural projects was the design and construction of the dome of the Duomo, the main cathedral of Florence. This had remain unconstructed for many years because no-one had been able to work out how to construct why would be the largest unsupported dome built since antiquity.

But in addition, Brunelleschi was involved in many smaller but still remarkable projects around Florence, including the design of the contraction of the family chapel for the Pazzi family at Sante Croce.

If the comparison between Ghiberti’s and Brunelleschi’s panels for the Baptistry showed that Ghiberti had been a little quicker to embrace classicism in his work, the Pazzi Chapel is just one of many buildings which shows how quickly and completely he made the transition, becoming the seminal architectural figure in shaping the Florentine Renaissance. Whilst there is very little biographical information available about Brunelleschi, it is known that in the early 1400’s he visited Rome with his friend Donatello. It seems that they were perhaps the first to study the classical period in the context of its architecture, rather than its literature and philosophy.