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

by Ross King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (40)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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 |
Filippo Brunelleschi is best known for his design of the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Apparently, he was an unkempt and cantankerous old goldsmith and sculptor, very paranoid and suspicious of his fellow artisans - even for fifteenth-century Florence. But it was not just the design for which he deserves accolades. The manner by which he proposed to erect the dome was so radical that he was labeled a madman. Even more startling was that he refused to reveal the details of how he intended to suspend the dome without traditional supports to the committee before he was awarded the commission, because of his fear that his new method would be stolen by other artisans. It remains the largest dome ever constructed using traditional materials.


Until 1436 when the dome was completed, the traditional method of building domes had been to support them with rigid wooden scaffolds (called centering) that had to remain in place as long as a year, until the mortar dried and it would be self-supporting. It was a remarkable feat of engineering, having the largest span ever constructed of bricks and mortar, spanning more than 140 feet, exceeding St. Paul ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
I'm docking this book a full star for the paucity of illustrations. Ross King is a very good writer. But he is not good enough to explain in short prose passages what can only be shown in diagrams and illustrations. (For instance the position, relative scale and role of particular stone pieces in the dome.) This book needed maybe a dozen or so well rendered illustrations to give us a visual depiction of the vaulting/weight bearing techniques that are a central concern of this book. Otherwise, King does an excellent job of bringing these people to life and making this undertaking seem real, considering the relative lack of material to draw on and the questionable reliability of what there is. If you are considering this book I'd first suggest gathering some material from the internet for instance wikiarquitectura.com. These aren't purpose-made for the book, but they focus on some of the same techniques and elements King does. (My edition is the Walker & Co. 2000 paperback) ( )
  ehines | Jul 4, 2013 |
The building of the dome of the Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo of Florence, would be an amazing feat of architecture, art and engineering today, but 600 years ago! This book recounts the trials and triumphs of the genius, Brunelleschi as he builds the dome. The story is a human one, recounting the jealousies and tensions among the Florentines and also the amazing details of how Brunelleschi overcame the problems of securing, preparing and placing several hundred tons of marble and millions of bricks into one of the world’s great structures, still the largest brick and mortar dome in the world.
  rexvaughan | Jun 27, 2013 |
Interesting for its technical descriptions but pretty dry reading overall. ( )
  Mortybanks | May 20, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:57 -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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