Title: Brunelleschi is Magic
Repository: Santa Maria dei Fiore, Florence Italy
According to his biographer, Georgio Vasari, Brunelleschi was a man “whose genius was so lofty that it might well be said he had been sent to us by Heaven to give a new form to architecture which had been going astray for hundreds of years… And since the world had existed for so many years without such a remarkable mind and such a divine spirit, Heaven willed that Filippo should leave behind him the greatest, tallest and most beautiful structure of all those built in modern times as well as in antiquity”. (Vasari, 111)
In addition to creating the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore without precedent, Brunelleschi also created many of the tools, hoists, winches and cranes that would be needed to be used on a project of such an enormous magnitude as the construction of the great dome. He designed a system of cantilevered scaffolding on which the builders could work in safety and also installed a kitchen up in the dome so that the workers would not need to expend energy going up and down stairs to eat their meals. (Vasari, 135)
Of course, not to be overshadowed by the dome is Brunelleschi’s other “magical” creation. The discovery of vanishing point perspective was yet another of Brunelleschi’s important legacies. He had worked on a series of drawings of the Baptistery around the year 1420 and developed a new system of drawing that created depth and a three dimensional image within the artwork. (Turner, 100) This drawing has been lost, but what remains is the subtle shift from a medieval view of two dimensional, flat artwork to a more modern, lifelike, and three dimensional world view.
Turner, A. R. Renaissance Florence: The Invention of a New Art. Laurence King Publishing Ltd. 1997
Vasari, G. The Lives of the Artists. Oxford University Press, translated by J.C. Bondanella and P. Bondanella. 2008