Brunelleschi's Dome

Brunelleschi's Dome

The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence

Book - 2005
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Even in an age of soaring skyscrapers and cavernous sports stadiums, the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, with its immense, terracotta-tiled cupola, still retains a rare power to astonish. Yet the elegance of the building belies the tremendous labour, technical ingenuity and bitter personal strife involved in its creation. For over a century after work on the cathedral began in 1296, the proposed dome was regarded as all but impossible to build because of its enormous size. the dome was hailed as one of the great wonders of the world. To this day, it remains the highest and widest masonry dome ever built. This book tells the extraordinary story of how the cupola was raised, from its conception to its consecration. Also told is the story of the dome's architect, the brilliant and volatile Filippo Brunelleschi. Denounced as a madman at the start of his labours, he was celebrated at their end as a great genius. His life was one of ambition, ingenuity, rivalry and intrigue - a human drama set against the plagues, wars, political feuds and intellectual ferments of Renaissance Florence, the glorious era for which the dome remains the most compelling symbol.
Publisher: London : Pimlico, 2005, c2000
Edition: 2nd Pimlico ed. --
ISBN: 9781844138272
Branch Call Number: 726.6094551 Kin 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 184 p. :,ill. (some col.). --


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Aug 06, 2016

Interesting book. I know nothing about architecture or building. A fair amount of the descriptions were over my head.

ChristchurchLib May 12, 2014

"Acclaimed author Ross King, known for both his historical fiction and his narrative nonfiction about the arts, compellingly recounts how Filippo Brunelleschi designed and executed the most magnificent church dome in Florence. Weaving together vivid details of Brunelleschi's personal life, his artistic and engineering discoveries, and the history of 15th-century Florence, Brunelleschi's Dome celebrates the achievement that "would forever transform architecture from a mechanical craft into a creative art" (Booklist)." History and Current Events May 2014 newsletter

Feb 17, 2014

Although the construction of the Santa Marie del Fiore had begun in 1296 (plague and war impeded progress) it still wasn't finished by 1418. Since the city wardens had no idea how their model could be built, they held a competition for a design solution. The book recounts the amazing story of how a Florentine goldsmith with no formal architectural training achieved the feat. The top of the dome is 20+ stories high, so the details - especially the invention/use of machines - of how it was done in the 15th century are fascinating. I really enjoyed watching the NOVA special on PBS, The Great Cathedral Mystery, after finishing the book.

Jan 04, 2014

194 pp.

Apr 25, 2011

This is an awe inspiring, informative and, at times amusing, account of how Filippo Brunelleschi became the capomaestro in charge of the design of the main dome for the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore and, how over a twenty eight year period, successfully built this architectural wonder, which, some five hundred years later, remains the largest dome of its kind in the world and a jewel in the Florentine landscape.

The cathedral itself had been under construction for more than a century before the Dome was ready to be built. It was a complex and difficult design. Much of the architectural knowledge needed to build a stone structure that would maintain its shape through the tension and compression caused {even during high winds and earthquakes} had to be ferreted out – partially through developing models as well as through studying ancient buildings in Rome, Constantinople and the Egypt as well as any ancient texts that had been translated into Latin. This was certainly more of a challenge than it would be today. Also, Brunelleschi’s mechanical engineering knowledge, gained through his training as a goldsmith, proved essential in inventing the equipment needed to hoist and position the heavy materials up to where they were needed in a timely and efficient way. His creativity and skill ensured that the dome was built without the need of a wooden centering structure within it and by avoiding the need of balustrades to so popular with the Gothic cathedrals being built throughout Europe at that time. The political intrigues, personal issues, distracting wars and bureaucratic hurdles that had to be overcome added to the complexity of the challenge.
The author successfully reveals the genius behind the building in an informative and interesting way.

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