Arts And Humanities Through The Eras. Renaissance Europe, by Edward Bleiberg

By Edward Bleiberg

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URBAN PLANNING. From Brunelleschi’s days onward, architects had often envisioned plazas and squares surrounding the structures that they built; but like the oft-unfinished façades of Renaissance churches, few of these plans ever came to fruition during the fifteenth century. The experience of seeing the Roman forum, even in its dilapidated and ruined state, suggested to Renaissance scholars, architects, and artists, the public vitality of ancient life. In an effort to recover this kind of use of urban space, architects in the fifteenth century increasingly turned to study the ancient designer Vitruvius as well as the works of Polybius.

Cosimo de’ Medici consequently wanted to use his new palazzo to project the right image. We know, for instance, that he had originally approached Brunelleschi to design the building, but he rejected the architect’s plans because he felt that they were too ostentatious and elaborate. Since Florence was a republic (although ostensibly one largely controlled by Cosimo) he desired a palace that would bolster the image of his family as cultured and substantial private citizens of the city. The Michelozzo design he chose has been somewhat altered over the centuries.

He designed a number of structures for these patrons, and in 1450 he finished his Ten Books on Architecture, a work that revived the ideas of the ancient Roman scholar Vitruvius about architectural proportions. While his architectural ideas were not widely influential among Florentine builders in the fifteenth century, architects elsewhere in Italy imitated his design tenets. DESIGNS. At the invitation of Pope Nicholas V (1459–1557), a scholarly pope whom Alberti met during his student days, the architect completed the first plans for the rebuilding of St.

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