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Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance…

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture (2000)

by Ross King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
What an unexpected little treat this was. An account of the building of the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Begun in 1296 and completed in 1436, the dome itself took nearly a quarter of a century to construct, and even when it was initially designed regarded as potentially impossible to construct, the original designers essentially shrugging their shoulders and hoping God would provide. Provision came in the form of bad-tempered genius Filippo Brunelleschi, master goldsmith, whose years spent treasure-hunting the ruins of Ancient Rome equipped him with the ideas and inspiration which would ultimately not only pull of an amazing feat of engineering, but also do it without the wooden structure that normally provided 'centring' while domes were being erected. Along the way, he came up with a few minor inventions that would turn out to be decades ahead of their time, and nobody's quite sure how he did it. This is to say nothing of the ravages of the plague, warfare, professional and political rivalry (with dueling sonnets) the odd disaster and even a spell in prison. It's an epic of human ingenuity. You'd almost say folly, but the end result has endured in its beauty and splendour and made important contributions to the world of art and science, and stands testimony to what humanity can achieve with time, genius, money and an army of workers. The dome endures, but alas, the sonnets are lost. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
While I found the subject matter interesting, I found this book rather frustrating to read, in part due to my own lack of architectural knowledge, and the book's lack of illustration for some of the more technical aspects of the dome's construction. I would have liked more drawings and diagrams and less tales of Brunelleschi's many rivalries and the author's meandering narrative. ( )
  photonegative | Apr 14, 2015 |
A slim but rather packed book, it details the intrigue around the famous dome in florence. In a way that seems so human, I really saw Brunelleschi as he puttered around erecting the dome. It reminded me why I love architecture and the little chapter about how this dome influenced Columbus was interesting although a little much. Overall, it just makes me want to see the dome and see the immortality remains of this genius ( )
  Lorem | Mar 4, 2015 |
I listened to this as an audiobook to prepare for an upcoming trip to Florence (and Venice) this October. I found it quite fascinating, full of interesting tidbits of humanity and scientific innovation. I think it probably would be preferable to have read a hard copy, however, since a number of the more technical descriptions would have made more sense with the illustrations available as reference (they are in the printed book).

I am very much looking forward to seeing the Duomo, now that I really understand what an innovation it was, and how remarkable an architectural feat it is.
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
I am a fan of Art History and I felt that I was back in my college class again. All of the vocabulary was spread throughout this book and reignited my passion for not History but Architecture as well. Ross King wrote about roughly the 16 year period of Filippo Brunelleschi's life when he was elected Capomaestro during the building of the dome for the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral.

Brunelleschi's innovative architectural design was chosen above all others including Lorenzo Ghiberti. The two would share an intense animosity toward one another always erupting into a insulting sonnet about one another. I think King did a great job in creating the aesthetic of Florence in 1420. I felt that I was immersed in that world every time I read.

I liked that the people of Florence had certain rules regarding battling in war. In no rain or snor or steep surfaces. I liked the architectural inventions that Brunellesch came up with such as the ox-hoist and the herringbone brickwork design. The latter was the real genius and is the reason why the dome is still standing today.

My only real complaint is that I wish some of the photos were in color. ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ross Kingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tacchetti, MaurizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On August 19, 1418, a competition was announced in Florece, where the city's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, had been under construction for more than a century:  Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome of theCathedral under construction by the Opera del Duomo--for armature, scaffold or other thing, or any lifting device pertaining to the construction and perfection of said cupola or vault--shall do so before the end of the month of September.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142000159, Paperback)

Filippo Brunelleschi's design for the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence remains one of the most towering achievements of Renaissance architecture. Completed in 1436, the dome remains a remarkable feat of design and engineering. Its span of more than 140 feet exceeds St Paul's in London and St Peter's in Rome, and even outdoes the Capitol in Washington, D.C., making it the largest dome ever constructed using bricks and mortar. The story of its creation and its brilliant but "hot-tempered" creator is told in Ross King's delightful Brunelleschi's Dome.

Both dome and architect offer King plenty of rich material. The story of the dome goes back to 1296, when work began on the cathedral, but it was only in 1420, when Brunelleschi won a competition over his bitter rival Lorenzo Ghiberti to design the daunting cupola, that work began in earnest. King weaves an engrossing tale from the political intrigue, personal jealousies, dramatic setbacks, and sheer inventive brilliance that led to the paranoid Filippo, "who was so proud of his inventions and so fearful of plagiarism," finally seeing his dome completed only months before his death. King argues that it was Brunelleschi's improvised brilliance in solving the problem of suspending the enormous cupola in bricks and mortar (painstakingly detailed with precise illustrations) that led him to "succeed in performing an engineering feat whose structural daring was without parallel." He tells a compelling, informed story, ranging from discussions of the construction of the bricks, mortar, and marble that made up the dome, to its subsequent use as a scientific instrument by the Florentine astronomer Paolo Toscanelli. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:16 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Tells the story of how fifteenth-century goldsmith and clock maker Filippo Brunelleschi devised the plan to build the dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, an engineering feat that had puzzled architects for over a century.

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