Howard SaalmanFilippo Brunelleschi's few but seminal buildings have stood as touchstones of a "return to Antiquity" in the Florentine era since his own day. Their quiet balance and perfection have fascinated and delighted generations of architecture students.
Howard Saalman offers here a definitive modern study of Brunelleschi's buildings, based on detailed archaeological investigation of the monuments and new exhaustive research in the Florentine archives. Saalman reassesses Brunelleschi's architectural work in the context of the political, economic, and religious environment of early fifteenth-century Florence. He reexamines Brunelleschi's personal style of designing details and of managing the quantity and disposition of light in his metrically and geometrically proportioned spaces.
Saalman devotes much attention to the role of Brunelleschi's leading patrons, the Barbadori in their chapel in Santa Felicita, Cosimo de'Medici at San Lorenzo, Andrea Pazzi at the chapter house of the Pazzi in the convent of Santa Croce, and the Scolari at the Angeli rotunda. The picture of Brunelleschi that emerges confirms earlier views of him as a traditionalist with a new language. But readers will find here a new dimension of historical precision and clarity in the definition of this much studied architect. Clear lines of demarcation are drawn between the work of Brunelleschi and that of his major contemporaries such as Michelozzo di Bartolomeo and, in particular, Leon Battista Alberti.
Saalman gives a significantly new view of Brunelleschi, seeing him less as a revolutionary innovator than as a model of the self-trained professional brought up in the aesthetic and pragmatic traditions of late Trecento Florence and an artist-engineer-architect in the service of a dynamic evolving political organism outgrowing the trappings of a medieval commune as it competed with other regional powers of its time.
Howard Saalman is Andrew Mellon Professor of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and author of several books, including Filippo Brunelleschi: The Cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore (1980) and an annotated edition of The Life of Brunelleschi by Antonio Manetti (Penn State, 1970).