Detail of lantern scaffolding

SCALA_ARCHIVES_10310196009

Creator:  Gherardo Mechini (attributed)
Title:  Construction of Brunelleschi’s Dome
Date:  c. 1500
Medium:  Architectural Drawing
Repository:  Gabinetto Disigni e Stampe delgli Uffizi, Florence

This sketch shows the scaffolding and hoisting equipment used to repair the lantern after a lightning strike.  The hoist and crane was needed to bring blocks of marble to the top of the lantern, as well as timber that was used to construct the various parts of the lantern. (King, 147)

Sadly, Filippo did not live long enough to see the lantern completed, but, according to Vasari, he stipulated in his will that the lantern should be built according to the model he built and to his exact specifications. (Vasari, 137)

The lantern proved to be another architectural masterpiece, mainly praised but envied by some.  “It appears that the heavens are envious of it, for it is continuously struck by lightning bolts every day”. (Vasari, 138)

The lantern can be visited by climbing the 463 steps to the top of the dome.  The stairways wind up through the two domes and one can clearly see the curvature of the domes as well as the herringbone brickwork and some of the massive sections of stone chains that are embedded within the structure.  Upon reaching the summit, one can fully appreciate the immensity of the dome while standing upon it.  The view from the top of the dome over the city and surrounding countryside is well worth the somewhat arduous climb.  The delicate marble arches of the lantern contrast with the red tiled roof of the dome, and is quite beautiful to experience up close.  One feels almost as if you are standing on the shoulders of a giant.

Works Cited:

King, R.  Brunelleschi’s Dome. Penguin.  2000
Vasari, G. The Lives of the Artists. Oxford University Press, translated by J.C. Bondanella and P. Bondanella. 2008

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