News

Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy, San Lorenzo, Florence

Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy, San Lorenzo, Florence


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.


Filippo Brunelleschi

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Filippo Brunelleschi, (born 1377, Florence [Italy]—died April 15, 1446, Florence), architect and engineer who was one of the pioneers of early Renaissance architecture in Italy. His major work is the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) in Florence (1420–36), constructed with the aid of machines that Brunelleschi invented expressly for the project. Most of what is known about Brunelleschi’s life and career is based on a biography written in the 1480s by an admiring younger contemporary identified as Antonio di Tuccio Manetti.

Why is Filippo Brunelleschi so famous?

Filippo Brunelleschi was an Italian Renaissance artist, architect, and engineer. He is known for his ability to solve complex problems, as demonstrated in his design for the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (1420–36 the Duomo) in Florence, which was constructed with machines that Brunelleschi invented expressly for the project.

What is Filippo Brunelleschi known for?

Filippo Brunelleschi is best known for designing the dome of the Duomo in Florence, but he was also a talented artist. He is said to have rediscovered the principles of linear perspective, an artistic device that creates the illusion of space by depicting converging parallel lines. His principles allowed contemporaries to produce astonishingly realistic artwork.

What was Filippo Brunelleschi’s family like?

Filippo Brunelleschi was the second of three sons of Ser Brunellesco di Lippo Lapi, a Florentine notary of some distinction, and Giuliana Spini. Although Brunelleschi never married, he adopted a son, Andrea di Lazzaro Cavalcanti, called Buggiano, who later became an artist.

How as Filippo Brunelleschi educated?

Filippo Brunelleschi received a liberal arts schooling, but his drawing talent led him to later train as a goldsmith and sculptor. He applied for registration in the Arte della Seta and in 1401 was designated a master.

How did Filippo Brunelleschi die?

The cause of Brunelleschi’s death is not widely written about, but he died close to the age of 70 in Florence and was buried in the Duomo.


LSU Digital Commons

The Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy, was constructed during the years 1419-1428 and is considered one of the most influential buildings of the early Italian Renaissance. Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy, in its original design, was pristine and void of the architectural ornamentation that had come to characterize so many buildings that preceded it and which would come to be associated with the sacristy itself on account of later alterations. Indeed, the original sacristy was characterized by a purely articulated space free of additional ornamentation to the architecture. However, shortly after the termination of construction, the Old Sacristy became a battleground for new and evolving notions concerning the ornamentation of sacred spaces. A veritable who's who of early Quattrocento Florence including the architect Filippo Brunelleschi, the sculptor Donatello, and the wealthy and increasingly powerful Medici family took a stand. Although, the initial lack of ornamentation has been researched, scholarship thus far neglected to fully explain the decision to profoundly alter the ornamentation of the original space. This thesis interprets and evaluates the research that has been done on the Old Sacristy and, in turn, offers an explanation for the current arrangement of architectural ornamentation in light of both aesthetic considerations and patronage.


Other works by Brunelleschi: San Lorenzo, Santo Spirito and the Pazzi chapel

The Basilica di San Lorenzo (Florence, Italy) is one of the largest churches of Florence and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family. It was consecrated in 393, though in 1419 was renovated under the direction of Filippo Brunelleschi.

In 1421 Brunelleschi began the works of the sacristy (now called the Old Sacristy) of the church of San Lorenzo (Florence), a project financed by the Medici family , and finished by 1429. Its floor plan is in the form of a perfect square and the space is covered by a dome on pendentives, this dome is an umbrella type dome, composed of 12 vaults joined together at the center. One of the four walls of the sacristy (the south wall) opens to an also square small altar which is connected to the main space by an arched opening and in turn it’s also covered by a smaller dome. This spatial design is an almost mathematical demonstration of one of the fundamental principles of perspective: the multi-dimensionality of space. By giving the greater space (the sacristy) and the minor (the altar) the same cubic scheme and the same dome cover, Brunelleschi emphasized that both spatial units were equal and that their difference, purely quantitative, depended on the apparent distance, that is on perspective. That is why the cubic space of the chapel is thought of as a distant space, just as if it were an intersection of the “visual pyramid” closest to the “vanishing point”. The interior of the main space is articulated with that of the altar by using pilasters and arches that emphasize the space’s geometric unity. The pilasters are for purely visual purposes, and mark the border between the spaces delimited by the cubes of the sacristy and the altar. These built-in pillars, together with those on the angles, the frieze and the arches are built with the so-called “pietra serena, dark gray in color, in order to highlight their presence over the plain white surface of the walls. The pilasters support an entablature, whose purpose is to divide the space into two equal horizontal zones: the upper zone with the dome and pendentives, and the lower zone with the squared space. The pilasters showcase Corinthian capitals, also as a testament to Brunelleschi’s studies of ancient Roman architecture. The sacristy’s decorative details were by Donatello, who designed the tondoes in the pendentives, the lunettes, the reliefs above the doors and the doors themselves. The smaller dome above the altar is decorated with astrological depictions of star constellations by Giuliano d’Arrigo. Beneath a central dome lay the tombs of the donor, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici and his wife Piccarda Bueri.

Interior of the Old Sacristy (Sagrestia Vecchia) of San Lorenzo (Florence). The sacristy is located off the north transept, it is the oldest part of the present church and the only part completed in Brunelleschi’s lifetime. It was constructed between 1421-1440. View of the vault of the Old Sacristy (Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence). The dome of the small altar of the Old Sacristy was decorated with a view of the Sky of Florence by Giuliano d’Arrigo in 1442.

Around 1423, while the sacristy was being built, Brunelleschi began to work in the church of San Lorenzo. Its interior, with three naves divided by two long rows of columns, resembles that of the primitive Roman basilicas, but a more careful examination allows us to notice that in this interior space the theme of the portico of the Hospital of the Innocents has been developed symmetrically: the two lateral naves repeat the succession of arches and spatial cubes projected in depth, while the central nave (much brighter) is equivalent to outer space. The viewer then has the magical impression that there is a mirror placed along the axis of the central nave that reflects, one on another, the deep perspectives of the lateral naves, exactly matching both images. In San Lorenzo, the massive pillars of Gothic architecture were replaced by slender columns with Corinthian capitals, and the traditional vaulted ceiling of the central nave was in turn replaced by a coffered ceiling with delicately gilded trimmed square compartments.

Interior view of the Basilica of San Lorenzo (Florence) looking towards the high altar.

If we consider now the “cubic” sections of the lateral naves, at the wall-side of which an arch opens way to a small chapel, we will see that the ratio between the arch of the central nave and that of its corresponding chapel is 5 to 3. These figures show that both arches have a common “vanishing point”, and that for the viewer located in the middle of the central nave contemplating one of these sections, the two arches are presented as two successive intersections of the “visual pyramid”. The arches and the shaft of the columns are built in the typical dark gray “pietra serena” to underline the role they play as essential articulation elements in the succession of spaces. The same proportional graduation regulates the distribution of the intensity of light: the lateral chapels don’t have openings to the exterior, the sail vaults of the lateral naves (as those of the portico of the Hospital of the Innocents) receive a nuanced light coming from an oculi or small circular window located at the top of the arches of each chapel, while the central nave is immersed in a uniform high luminosity provided by its larger windows that run parallel to the nave over the columns.

A general view of the arrangement and distribution of the main nave, aisles and lateral chapels of San Lorenzo (above), they follow a precise geometrical design.

A curious novelty of San Lorenzo which gives it rare elegance, is the arrangement of cubic pieces of entablature (with architrave, frieze and cornice) on top of each capital. This arrangement, reminiscent of the great Romanesque and Byzantine abacuses, provides an aerial grace precisely located in the area between the capital and the arch where the forces of weight and resistance meet. The Basilica of San Lorenzo is considered a milestone in the history of the development of Renaissance architecture, and one practice of Brunelleschi (in the Old Sacristy), which later became a doctrine of Renaissance architecture, was the use of white walls in churches.

Detail of one of the columns of the main nave of San Lorenzo. Right on top of the Composite order capital comes a cubic piece of entablature (with architrave, frieze and cornice) connecting the capital with the starting of the arches. The Basilica di Santo Spirito (Florence, Italy) built between 1444-1487.

The other basilica that Brunelleschi designed in Florence, the new Basilica of Santo Spirito (begun in 1444), has also three naves separated by rows of columns in “pietra serena” which in turn support arches of the same material. As in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, cubic pieces of entablature were also placed between the column capitals and the starting point of arches. Despite their similarities, this building shows new and surprising advances in the control of space. The height of the central nave is exactly twice its width, and its width is the same as the height of the arches and the distance between them and the flat roof of the central nave. On the other hand, the sections of the lateral naves have the same length as width (that is, they form a square), but their height, as in the central nave, is twice its width. It’s possible that the visitor who walks inside this church doesn’t immediately become aware of such proportions, but these do exist and contribute to creating an impression of order and serenity. As seen, Santo Spirito is also an example of the mathematical proportion and harmony omnipresent throughout Brunelleschi’s work, and is as well considered as one of the preeminent examples of Renaissance architecture.

A view of the central nave looking towards the altar of Santo Spirito.

The big difference with respect to San Lorenzo is that in Santo Spirito the side chapels are reduced to simple niches also, the ratio between the arches of the central nave and those of the side chapels –which in San Lorenzo was 5 to 3– in Santo Spirito is 1 to 1, which means that the lateral spaces are not graduated in perspective as if they were two successive intersections of the “visual pyramid”, but they are directly articulated with the arches of the central nave by means of the transverse arches of the lateral naves. In sum, the whole space forms a reticulum of dynamic elements built with the dark “pietra serena” that totally eliminates the importance of flat surfaces. Additionally, instead of the grooved pilasters that in San Lorenzo created a separation between the side chapels, in Santo Spirito Brunelleschi placed half recessed columns supporting the arches of the side niches and joined them to the transverse arches, that is, instead of producing a pause between every two niches, the dynamics of the whole supporting structure appears to be accentuated to the maximum: the columns then become an autonomous plastic element that creates space around itself.

View of the juxtaposition of the main nave’s arches with the arches of the lateral naves leading to the side niches of Santo Spirito.

Between 1430 and 1444 (two years before his death), Brunelleschi directed the works on the Pazzi chapel located in the first cloister of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, a work commissioned by Andrea Pazzi of the powerful Pazzi family, and whose purpose was to serve as the Chapter House or meeting place for the monks. Brunelleschi was responsible for the building’s plan, but scholars debate whether he was or wasn’t involved in the building’s execution and detailing. The inspiration for this famous chapel was the floor plan of the old sacristy of San Lorenzo, with the difference that in here the dome doesn’t rest on four walls, but on two walls and two arches, and that the floor plan was not square but rectangular, which makes it appear slightly less balanced than the old Sacristy of San Lorenzo. As in San Lorenzo’s sacristy, the Pazzi chapel includes a small cubic space reserved for the altar which repeats the lines of the small altar of San Lorenzo. The small dome on pendentives that covers the altar of the Pazzi chapel looks like a reduction of the dome that covers the larger rectangular space, which includes four ceramic medallions of the Evangelists thought to be modeled by Donatello. The walls are soberly decorated by other blue and white medallions by Luca della Robbia representing the seated Apostles. Della Robbia also did the terracotta decorations in the cupola of the porch. These medallions are accompanied on the walls by grooved pilasters of “pietra serena” that stand on a step. Inside the space of the Pazzi chapel, perfect as a diamond, there are no shadows: light comes downward from the circular windows of the dome, and changes throughout the day, this fine light that spreads over this marvelous architecture doesn’t seem to be a physical light, but a spatial light, as absolute as space itself.

Interior view of the Pazzi Chapel located in the “first cloister” on the southern flank of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. The chapel was built between 1442-1443. The side small altar with its dome in the Pazzi chapel, they repeat the model of the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo (see pictures above).

The Pazzi chapel is the only work of Brunelleschi that has an exterior facade. Its centerpiece looks like a triumphal arch, with six columns with Corinthian capitals supporting an entablature decorated with medallions, over it there’s an upper level like a frieze divided by pilasters and a central arch, all of this topped with another band of sculpted entablature and a cornice at the top. Internally, this portico is covered with a barrel vault interrupted by a central coffered dome. The function of this facade is to separate the unlimited space full of sun of the exterior, from the geometric universe of the interior of the chapel that is why its ornate vaults and its small dome create a twilight zone between them and allow in the interior only a high and uniform light that doesn’t cast shadows: the calm light of reason that Brunelleschi so much loved.

Tha facade of the Pazzi chapel within the cloister of the Basilica di Santa Croce (Florence). The colorful dome and coffered barrel vault in the porch of the Pazzi Chapel (Florence).

Oculus: (Plural oculi, from Latin oculus, meaning “eye”). A circular opening in the center of a dome or in a wall. Originating in antiquity, it is a feature of Byzantine and Neoclassical architecture.

Pietra Serena: A gray sandstone used extensively in Renaissance Florence for architectural details. The material obtained at Fiesole (Italy) is considered the best, though it is also quarried at Arezzo, Cortona, and Volterra.


Access options

1 de’ Medici's , Giovanni di Bicci deathbed request: ‘ pregate Iddio che il mio cammino sia con salute della immortale anima ’, in Cavalcanti , Giovanni , Istorie fiorentine , 2 vols ( Florence , 1838 ), I, p. 263Google Scholar .

2 The literature on the Old Sacristy's architectural style and its place in Brunelleschi's work is too huge to include in its entirety. Listed here are only the studies that have contributed most to its identity as an iconic Renaissance structure: von Fabriczy , Cornelius , Filippo Brunelleschi: sein Leben und seine Werke ( Stuttgart , 1892 ), pp. 150 –96Google Scholar Sanpaolesi , Piero , Brunellesco e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo ( Pisa , 1948 )Google Scholar Klotz , Heinrich , Filippo Brunelleschi: The Early Works and the Medieval Tradition ( London , 1990 ), pp. 118 –29Google Scholar , originally published as Die Früwerke Brunelleschis und die mittelalterliche Tradition (Berlin, 1970) Battisti , Eugenio , Brunelleschi: Complete Works ( London , 1981 ), pp. 79 – 97 Google Scholar , originally published as Filippo Brunelleschi (Milan, 1976) Saalman , Howard , Filippo Brunelleschi: The Buildings ( London , 1983 ), pp. 113 –43Google Scholar Baldini , Umberto et al. , eds, Brunelleschi e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo ( Florence , 1989 )Google Scholar Trachtenberg , Marvin , ‘ On Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy as Model for Early Renaissance Church Architecture ’, in L'Eglise dans l'architecture de la Renaissance , ed. Guillaume , Jean ( Paris , 1996 ), pp. 9 – 34 Google Scholar Bruschi , Arnaldo , Filippo Brunelleschi ( Milan , 2006 ), pp. 76 – 108 Google Scholar Cohen , Matthew A. , Beyond Beauty: Reexamining Architectural Proportion through the Basilicas of San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito ( Venice , 2013 )Google Scholar .

3 In addition to the studies cited in the previous note, see also Kent , Dale , Cosimo de’ Medici and the Florentine Renaissance ( New Haven and London , 2000 ), pp. 186 –97Google Scholar Ruschi , Pietro , ‘ La Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo: per un disegno delle vicende costruttive ’, in Donatello e la Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo , ed. Ruschi , Pietro et al. ( Florence , 1986 )Google Scholar Pietro Ruschi, ‘La Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo: storia e architettura’, in Brunelleschi e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo, ed. Baldini et al., pp. 13–27 Paoletti , John T. , ‘ Fraternal Piety and Family Power: The Artistic Patronage of Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici ’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, 1389–1464 , ed. Ames-Lewis , Francis ( Oxford , 1992 ), pp. 195 – 219 Google Scholar Roger Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John the Evangelist and the Old Sacristy as Sepulchre’, Artibus et historiae, 16 (1995), pp. 141–61 Cornelison , Sally , ‘ The Tomb of Giovanni di Bicci de ’ Medici and the Old Sacristy at San Lorenzo’, in The Sculpted Object, 1400–1700 , ed. Currie , Stuart and Motture , Peta ( Aldershot , 1997 ), pp. 25 – 42 Google Scholar and San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, ed. Robert Gaston and Louis Waldman (Florence, 2017).

4 In taking this approach, I am indebted to Robert Gaston's ground-breaking study of Lorenzo , San , ‘ Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo, Florence, 1350–1650 ’, in Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy , ed. Kent , Francis William and Simons , Patricia ( Oxford , 1987 ), pp. 111 –33Google Scholar . Dale Kent also proposes that such a rebalancing should be undertaken in Cosimo de’ Medici, pp. 186–97. Two essays that begin to move in this direction are Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John’, and Cornelison, ‘The Tomb of Giovanni di Bicci’.

5 See Ettlinger , L.D. , ‘ The Liturgical Function of Michelangelo's Medici Chapel ’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz , 22 ( 1978 ), pp. 287 – 304 Google Scholar .

6 Although the modern literature tends to ignore the question, it was raised in Domenico Moreni, Continuazione delle memorie istoriche dell'Ambrosiana imperial basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze, 2 vols (Florence, 1816), I, p. 22, and has been explored in relation to Giovanni di Bicci's son Cosimo: see Kent, Cosimo de’ Medici, pp. 186–97.

7 This was the only point of access to the sacristy at the time. Francesco Caglioti believes that there was a second door giving access to the adjacent chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian that may have provided an additional view of the sacristy from the outset — see Caglioti , , ‘ La tomba verrocchiesca dei ‘Cosmiadi’ e la basilica di San Lorenzo: antefatti e primi successi ’, Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Classe di Lettere e Filosofia. Quaderni , 4 ( 1996 ), pp. 127 –54Google Scholar also Sebregondi , Ludovica , ‘ Alle radici della Sagrestia Vecchia: Brunelleschi, i Medici, i confratelli del Santissimo Sacramento ’, in Il Tesoro di San Lorenzo , ed. Nardinocchi , Elisabetta and Sebregondi , Ludovica ( Florence , 2007 ), pp. 11 – 31 Google Scholar — but there is no evidence for it other than the circumstantial presence of an opening in the same position in the undercroft. None of the early drawings of the church shows an opening here: see Burns , Howard , ‘ San Lorenzo in Florence Before the Building of the New Sacristy: An Early Plan ’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz , 23 ( 1979 ), pp. 145 –54Google Scholar . Any evidence of a door in this position was eradicated when a large arch was inserted by Verrocchio for the erection of the Tomb of Piero and Giovanni de’ Medici.

8 Today the sacristy is more visible from the nave than it would have been when first built as it can be glimpsed through the opening around the tomb of Piero and Giovanni de’ Medici, an opening that did not exist when the Old Sacristy was first conceived.

9 For an analysis of sacristy functions, see Haines , Margaret , The ‘Sacrestia delle Messe’ of the Florentine Cathedral ( Florence , 1983 )Google Scholar Hamlett , Lydia , ‘ The Sacristy of San Marco, Venice: Form and Function Illuminated ’, Art History , 32 ( 2009 ), pp. 458 –84CrossRefGoogle Scholar Ashley Elston, ‘Storing Sanctity: Sacristy Reliquary Cupboards in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy’ (doctoral thesis, University of Kansas, 2011) Davies , Paul , ‘ Giuliano da Sangallo e decorum negli edifici a pianta centrale: Santa Maria delle Carceri e la Sacrestia di Santo Spirito ’, in Giuliano da Sangallo , ed. Belluzzi , Amedeo , Elam , Caroline and Fiore , Francesco Paolo ( Milan , 2017 ), pp. 304 –18Google Scholar .

10 Florence, Archivio di Stato [hereafter ASF], Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 5: ‘Item quod in cappella Sanctorum Cosme et Damianj que est penes sacristiam novam dicte ecclesie et in cappella Sancti Johannis Evangeliste existente in dicta nova sacristia dicte eclesie constructis et edificatis per dictum Johannem ad incrementum divini cultus in eclesia memorata’. From this, it is clear that the chapel of St John the Evangelist is not the sacristy, but ‘in’ the sacristy. Any residual doubt is dispelled by a description later in the manuscript (f. 15) of ‘due nobilissime et sumptuose cappelle constructe nuper simul cum una ornatissima sacristia in dicta eclesia per dictum spectabilem et egregium virum Johannem’. This mid-fifteenth-century manuscript, which contains a series of documents associated with the establishment of canonries at the church, is central to the arguments advanced and is discussed in greater detail below.

11 For Giovanni di Bicci, see Dami , Brunetto , Giovanni di Bicci dei Medici nella vita politica: ricerche storiche (1400–1429) ( Florence , 1899 )Google Scholar De Roover , Raymond , The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, 1397–1494 ( Cambridge, MA , 1963 )Google Scholar and Kent , Dale , The Rise of the Medici: Faction in Florence 1426–1434 ( Oxford , 1978 )Google Scholar .

12 For the early fifteenth-century rebuilding of San Lorenzo and its history, see Hyman , Isabelle , Fifteenth-Century Florentine Studies: The Palazzo Medici and a Ledger for the Church of San Lorenzo ( New York and London , 1977 )Google Scholar Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, pp. 106–209 Caroline Elam, ‘Cosimo de'Medici and San Lorenzo’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, ed. Ames-Lewis, pp. 157–80 and Trachtenberg , Marvin , ‘ Building and Writing S. Lorenzo in Florence: Architect, Biographer, Patron, and Prior ’, Art Bulletin , 97 ( 2015 ), pp. 140 –72CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

13 For tomb types, see Butterfield , Andrew , ‘ Social Structure and the Typology of Funerary Monuments in Early Renaissance Florence ’, Res , 26 ( 1994 ), pp. 47 – 68 Google Scholar . The observation about preferences for a site in front of the high altar is also made in Sharon Strocchia, ‘Burials in Renaissance Florence’ (doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1981), pp. 365–67, and Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, p. 131.

14 Giovannni di Bicci's role in the patronage of the chapels has been perhaps unintentionally minimised in the literature. The inscriptions on the tomb and the document that refers to the ‘fondamenti di Chosimo’ (1422) have tended to lead scholars to emphasise the roles of Cosimo and Lorenzo in the patronage of the chapels. See, for example, Kent, Cosimo de' Medici, pp. 186–97, and Paoletti, ‘Fraternal Piety’, pp. 195–219. It is Giovanni di Bicci who is named as patron in the earliest surviving documents — see ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 1v: ‘Sane pro parte diletti filij Johannis Bicci de Medicis civis florentini, nobis nuper exhibita petitio continebat quod ipse qui de bonis sibj creditis aliquam in celestibus portiunculam dirigere gestiens apud eclesiam Sanctj Laurentij florentinj in qua preter priorem eiusdem novem canonicatus et totidem prebende fore noscantur notabilem cum duabus inibj pro celebratione missarum cappellis sacristiam opere non modicum sumptuoso, de novo edificarj et construj facere coepit ad ipsius incrementum cultus’.

15 It should be noted that Giovanni di Bicci's preference for the sacristy was not dictated by the dedication of its chapel to St John the Evangelist — Giovanni's name saint — as the dedications were not preordained: they could easily have been swapped.

16 For this observation, see Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 116. It might be argued that there was nowhere for Giovanni di Bicci to be buried in the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian as the chapel stood over the entrance into the church's undercroft and thus there was no solid ground in which he could have been interred, but this argument does not stand up to scrutiny. The sacristy has the same problem, and he is in fact buried in the pier supporting the floor. Had Giovanni di Bicci wished to use the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian as his mausoleum, it would not have been impossible to design a different access point to the undercroft, given that the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian and the sacristy were the first parts of the new church to have been built.

17 See, for example, Klotz, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 130. For subsequent literature on the Santa Trinita sacristy, see Jones , Roger , ‘ Palla Strozzi e la sagrestia di Santa Trinita ’, Rivista d'arte , 37 ( 1984 ), pp. 9 – 106 Google Scholar , and Bulgarelli , Massimo , ‘ La sagrestia di Santa Trinita a Firenze: architettura, memoria, rappresentazione ’, Quaderni dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Architettura , 57 / 59 ( 2011 –12), pp. 25 – 36 Google Scholar .

18 Tomas , Natalie R. , The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence ( Aldershot , 2003 ), pp. 14 – 16 Google Scholar .

19 Haines , Margaret , ‘ The Sacristy of S. Maria Novella in Florence: The History of its Functions and Furnishings ’, Memorie domenicane , 11 ( 1980 ), pp. 576 – 626 Google Scholar .

20 For the marriage of Onofrio Strozzi to Giovanna Cavalcanti, see Heather Gregory, ‘Palla Strozzi's Patronage and Pre-Medicean Florence’, in Patronage, Art, and Society in Renaissance Italy, ed. Kent and Simons, pp. 201–20, esp. p. 209.

21 Haines, The ‘Sacrestia delle Messe’, pp. 23–26.

22 For the complicated patronage history of the Santa Croce sacristy, besides the studies of Haines cited above, see Jacks , Phillip and Caferro , William , The Spinelli of Florence: Fortunes of a Renaissance Merchant Family ( University Park, PA , 2001 ), pp. 162 –65Google Scholar .

23 No proper survey of fifteenth-century sacristies has yet been attempted, and this would be well worth pursuing.

24 For the Busini patronage of the old sacristy in San Salvatore al Monte, see Chiara Capulli, ‘“La Chiesa bellissima di Sancto Francesco in Monte”: Experiencing a Franciscan Observant Church in Renaissance Florence’ (MPhil dissertation, University of Cambridge, 2016), p. 37. Tommaso di Francesco Busini, the sacristy's founder, was buried there in 1442.

25 Walter , and Paatz , Elisabeth , Die Kirchen von Florenz: ein kunstgeschichtliches Handbuch , 6 vols ( Frankfurt am Main , 1940 –54), II, p. 58Google Scholar .

26 Bertagna , Martino , ‘ Il convento dell'Osservanza di Siena e le sue vicende strutturali dal 1495 ai giorni nostri ’, Archivum Franciscanum historicum , 57 ( 1964 ), pp. 110 –53Google Scholar .

27 Trachtenberg, ‘On Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy’, pp. 9–34.

28 This example does not entirely correspond to San Lorenzo. While the Old Sacristy was the largest ‘space’ in the church, it was not itself a chapel, as discussed above.

29 Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, pp. 111–33.

30 Cohn , Samuel , The Cult of Remembrance and the Black Death: Six Renaissance Cities in Central Italy ( Baltimore, MD , 1997 )Google Scholar .

31 ‘In nomine domini anni MCCCXXVII del mese di Febraio si difico et comincio questa chappella per Bivigliano et Bartolo et Salvestro Manetti et per Vanni et Pietro Bandini de Baroncielli ad honore et reverentia del nostro signore iddio e della sua madre Beata Vergine Maria Annuntiata al chui onore l'avemo cosi posto nome per rimedio et salute delle nostre anime et di tutti i nostri.’

32 Haines, ‘The Sacristy of S. Maria Novella in Florence’, p. 586, n. 36.

33 De Roover, The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, pp. 10–14.

34 See the description of the character of Giovanni di Bicci by his great-nephew in Cavalcanti, Istorie fiorentine, I, pp. 261–68.

35 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155. See, above all, David Peterson, ‘San Lorenzo, the Medici and the Florentine Church in the Late Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries’, in San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, ed. Gaston and Waldman, pp. 62–102, esp. pp. 81–83. This manuscript was noted in Susan McKillop, ‘Dante and lumen Christi: A Proposal for the Meaning of the Tomb of Cosimo de'Medici’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, ed. Ames-Lewis, pp. 245–301, esp. pp. 264–65 and in Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John’, p. 148.

36 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, ff. 2r–17r.

37 Although the documents specify that the canonries were established to care for the souls not just of the founder, but also of his family and friends, it is clear that their principal purpose was to care for the former.

38 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, ff. 1r–2r.

41 For the date of the final agreement, see ibid., filza 155, f. 1. Another document, published in Baldini, Brunelleschi e Donatello, p. 102, records that a meeting took place on 8 November. See Florence, Archivio Capitolare di San Lorenzo [hereafter ASL], 2866, Filza di quaderni di ricordi 1389–1533, f. 2r. The description of the meeting provided by the ricordi, however, is so close in detail to the one that definitely took place on 28 November that it is likely the date as written in the libro de ricordi is simply a transcription error.

42 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 17r.

44 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 6v.

45 See, for example, ASL, 2051, f. 1v.

46 See Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, pp. 111–33

47 Inclina domine (from Psalm 86): ‘Turn thy ear, Lord, and listen to me in my helplessness and my need. Protect a life dedicated to thyself rescue a servant of thine that puts his trust in thee. In thee, my own God have mercy, O Lord, for mercy I plead continually comfort thy servant's heart, this heart that aspires, Lord, to thee. Who is so kind and forgiving, Lord, as thou art, who so rich in mercy to all who invoke him? Give a hearing, then, Lord, to my prayer listen to my plea when I cry out to thee in a time of sore distress, counting on thy audience. There is none like thee, Lord, among the gods none can do as thou doest. Lord, all the nations thou hast made must needs come and worship thee, honouring thy name, so great thou art, so marvellous in thy doings, thou who alone art God.’

Deus Veniae Largitur (from Office for the dead): ‘O God the giver of pardon, and the lover of human salvation, we beseech thy clemency: that thou grant the brethren of our congregation, kinsfolk, and benefactors, which are departed out of this world, blessed Mary ever virgin making intercession with all the saints, to come to the fellowship of eternal blessedness.’

Fidelium deus (from Office for the dead): ‘O God the creator, and redeemer of all the faithful, give unto the souls of thy servants — men and women — remission of all their sins: that through Godly supplications they may obtain the pardon which they have always wished for. Who livest and reignest world without end.’

48 The document is dated 21 January 1429 (1430 according to the Gregorian calendar). In it, Giovanni di Bicci, who died on 20 February 1429, is referred to as already dead.

49 The table is based on the various volumes of Obblighi in ASL and on ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155.

50 See Chiffoleau , Jacques , La Comptabilité de l'au-delà: les hommes, la mort et la religion dans la région d'Avignon, à la fin du Moyen Age (vers 1320–vers 1480) ( Rome , 1980 ), pp. 323 –56Google Scholar Johnson , Geraldine , ‘ Activating the Effigy: Donatello's Pecci Tomb in Siena Cathedral ’, Art Bulletin , 77 ( 1995 ), pp. 445 –59CrossRefGoogle Scholar , esp. pp. 454–55.


Firmitas, Utilitas et Venustas

When thinking about three iconic Florentine buildings that best exemplify its architecture, these words come to mind, which were used by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius to set the standard for good architecture: Firmitas, let’s translate that as permanence Utilitas, as functionality and Venustas, as beauty or delight.

Firmitas |permanence | The Baptistery of San Giovanni

Perhaps the most Florentine of all buildings is the Baptistery of Saint John. Its history dates back millennia: consecrated in 1059, documented in 897, earliest origins uncertain. In medieval Florence, the location of the baptistery was peripheral however, it has been the city’s symbolic center for much of its life. Dedicated to the city’s patron saint, John the Baptist, the building represents a certain Florentine self-identity. Dante himself referred to it as “il mio bel San Giovanni” (“my beautiful Saint John”). Within its polychromed walls, the poet was baptized into his Christian faith and this function is expressed in its architecture. The octagonal shape reminds the faithful of the promise of the eighth day of eternal time. The pure geometric form, clad with green and white marble in similarly pure geometric patterns, suggest the order of a divine plan. The eastern portal, adorned from the 15th century with the glittering Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti (now copies), guided the newly baptized as they processed from the building’s central baptismal font, out into the piazza (paradiso), and then into the eventual cathedral opposite.

Beyond its Christian significance, however, the Baptistery also represents a certain fiorentinità in its architecture, rooted as it is in antiquity and extending its branches to influence the city’s later building. The single volume of its interior reminds us of the Pantheon in Rome, its monumental granite columns are most likely ancient in origin. The marble mosaic pavement is a sister to the coeval one in San Miniato al Monte, while the octagonal cloister vault, here resplendent with golden mosaics, is structurally like the cupola later designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The blue and red angels of the frieze show up in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo, the proportions of the columns appear in the Pazzi Chapel. The patterns of the green and white cladding repeat on the façade of Santa Maria Novella. And it goes on: the legacy of the Baptistery looms large in the architecture of Florence.

Utilitas |functionality | Hospital of the Innocents

Photography by @cultural__e

The Hospital of the Innocents, or Ospedale degli Innocenti, by Filippo Brunelleschi is the building that introduced Renaissance architecture to Florence in 1419. Brunelleschi, while thought to have been inspired by the ancient buildings of Rome, was just as likely to have been influenced by the classicizing spirit of Romanesque buildings in Florence, such as the Baptistery. Here at the Spedale, he employed Corinthian columns and round headed arches, as at the Baptistery but now carved in the cool grey stone known as pietra serena that was to become standard in future Florentine architecture. He organized these stone elements to define a nine-arched portico, or loggia, according to a simple, lucid geometrical ordering system, characteristic of the Renaissance.

The idea of a portico itself, however, was not an innovation. Just down the street is the portico of the former Ospedale di San Matteo in piazza San Marco. Brunelleschi’s building in piazza Santissima Annunziata, on the other hand, simply gave a new language to a traditional Florentine form that identified a building as a hospital. The Florentines, dating back to the middle ages, had a rather sophisticated social welfare network, with hospitals located throughout the city. The word “hospital” derives from the Latin hospes, meaning both host and guest. Florence had several such institutions that “hosted guests”, be they sick, retired, travelling pilgrims, or, as here, orphans. At the Spedale, the loggia housed a ruota (wheel), where one could leave a child orphaned due to parental death, illness or poverty. In turning that wheel, the hospital staff would bring the child inside the building to be cared for. The memory of this function is still seen today in Andrea della Robbia’s colored terracotta reliefs of swaddled infants on the façade and the building’s continued functions as a daycare center, seat of UNICEF, and museum.

Venustas | beauty or delight |Medici Chapels

The Medici Chapels at San Lorenzo, both the Chapel of the Princes and the so-called “New Sacristy” by Michelangelo represent yet another take on Florentine architecture. The octagonal shape and cloister vault of the Chapel of the Princes speak to the very foundation of Florentine architecture, the Baptistery and, by extension, Brunelleschi’s cupola on Florence Cathedral. However, in its colossal scale and rich, colored marble revetments, it reveals an ostentation not usually seen in Florence. On entering this monumental space, one delights in the unexpected and the overwhelming experience takes one’s breath away.

The New Sacristy is beautiful and delightful in another, more erudite way. In the unusual use of classical architectural elements, it seems to be the culmination of Renaissance architecture in Florence. Classical architecture is often referred to as a “language,” and, as with any language, there is a conventional vocabulary and a standardized syntax and grammar that gives meaning to its words. If Brunelleschi’s Hospital of the Innocents, or his Old Sacristy at San Lorenzo, were experiments in reviving the vocabulary of ancient architecture and exploring its simple syntax, Michelangelo’s architectural designs at the New Sacristy seem to revel in the sophisticated use of that language, delighting the viewer with the unexpected juxtaposition of elements, in wordplay and puns as it were. He began his design with the simple geometric forms and grey pietra serena of Brunelleschi’s Old Sacristy at this church too, but then Michelangelo stretched his proportions, added a secondary white Carrara marble architectural system that seems to be sculptural decoration and architecture at the same time, placed heavy solid elements over voids, included unusual ornament that encroaches upon ornament, delighting the eye of all who see it but also delighting the mind of those who know the classical language of architecture well.


Access options

1 de’ Medici's , Giovanni di Bicci deathbed request: ‘ pregate Iddio che il mio cammino sia con salute della immortale anima ’, in Cavalcanti , Giovanni , Istorie fiorentine , 2 vols ( Florence , 1838 ), I, p. 263Google Scholar .

2 The literature on the Old Sacristy's architectural style and its place in Brunelleschi's work is too huge to include in its entirety. Listed here are only the studies that have contributed most to its identity as an iconic Renaissance structure: von Fabriczy , Cornelius , Filippo Brunelleschi: sein Leben und seine Werke ( Stuttgart , 1892 ), pp. 150 –96Google Scholar Sanpaolesi , Piero , Brunellesco e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo ( Pisa , 1948 )Google Scholar Klotz , Heinrich , Filippo Brunelleschi: The Early Works and the Medieval Tradition ( London , 1990 ), pp. 118 –29Google Scholar , originally published as Die Früwerke Brunelleschis und die mittelalterliche Tradition (Berlin, 1970) Battisti , Eugenio , Brunelleschi: Complete Works ( London , 1981 ), pp. 79 – 97 Google Scholar , originally published as Filippo Brunelleschi (Milan, 1976) Saalman , Howard , Filippo Brunelleschi: The Buildings ( London , 1983 ), pp. 113 –43Google Scholar Baldini , Umberto et al. , eds, Brunelleschi e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo ( Florence , 1989 )Google Scholar Trachtenberg , Marvin , ‘ On Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy as Model for Early Renaissance Church Architecture ’, in L'Eglise dans l'architecture de la Renaissance , ed. Guillaume , Jean ( Paris , 1996 ), pp. 9 – 34 Google Scholar Bruschi , Arnaldo , Filippo Brunelleschi ( Milan , 2006 ), pp. 76 – 108 Google Scholar Cohen , Matthew A. , Beyond Beauty: Reexamining Architectural Proportion through the Basilicas of San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito ( Venice , 2013 )Google Scholar .

3 In addition to the studies cited in the previous note, see also Kent , Dale , Cosimo de’ Medici and the Florentine Renaissance ( New Haven and London , 2000 ), pp. 186 –97Google Scholar Ruschi , Pietro , ‘ La Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo: per un disegno delle vicende costruttive ’, in Donatello e la Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo , ed. Ruschi , Pietro et al. ( Florence , 1986 )Google Scholar Pietro Ruschi, ‘La Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo: storia e architettura’, in Brunelleschi e Donatello nella Sagrestia Vecchia di San Lorenzo, ed. Baldini et al., pp. 13–27 Paoletti , John T. , ‘ Fraternal Piety and Family Power: The Artistic Patronage of Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici ’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, 1389–1464 , ed. Ames-Lewis , Francis ( Oxford , 1992 ), pp. 195 – 219 Google Scholar Roger Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John the Evangelist and the Old Sacristy as Sepulchre’, Artibus et historiae, 16 (1995), pp. 141–61 Cornelison , Sally , ‘ The Tomb of Giovanni di Bicci de ’ Medici and the Old Sacristy at San Lorenzo’, in The Sculpted Object, 1400–1700 , ed. Currie , Stuart and Motture , Peta ( Aldershot , 1997 ), pp. 25 – 42 Google Scholar and San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, ed. Robert Gaston and Louis Waldman (Florence, 2017).

4 In taking this approach, I am indebted to Robert Gaston's ground-breaking study of Lorenzo , San , ‘ Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo, Florence, 1350–1650 ’, in Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy , ed. Kent , Francis William and Simons , Patricia ( Oxford , 1987 ), pp. 111 –33Google Scholar . Dale Kent also proposes that such a rebalancing should be undertaken in Cosimo de’ Medici, pp. 186–97. Two essays that begin to move in this direction are Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John’, and Cornelison, ‘The Tomb of Giovanni di Bicci’.

5 See Ettlinger , L.D. , ‘ The Liturgical Function of Michelangelo's Medici Chapel ’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz , 22 ( 1978 ), pp. 287 – 304 Google Scholar .

6 Although the modern literature tends to ignore the question, it was raised in Domenico Moreni, Continuazione delle memorie istoriche dell'Ambrosiana imperial basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze, 2 vols (Florence, 1816), I, p. 22, and has been explored in relation to Giovanni di Bicci's son Cosimo: see Kent, Cosimo de’ Medici, pp. 186–97.

7 This was the only point of access to the sacristy at the time. Francesco Caglioti believes that there was a second door giving access to the adjacent chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian that may have provided an additional view of the sacristy from the outset — see Caglioti , , ‘ La tomba verrocchiesca dei ‘Cosmiadi’ e la basilica di San Lorenzo: antefatti e primi successi ’, Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Classe di Lettere e Filosofia. Quaderni , 4 ( 1996 ), pp. 127 –54Google Scholar also Sebregondi , Ludovica , ‘ Alle radici della Sagrestia Vecchia: Brunelleschi, i Medici, i confratelli del Santissimo Sacramento ’, in Il Tesoro di San Lorenzo , ed. Nardinocchi , Elisabetta and Sebregondi , Ludovica ( Florence , 2007 ), pp. 11 – 31 Google Scholar — but there is no evidence for it other than the circumstantial presence of an opening in the same position in the undercroft. None of the early drawings of the church shows an opening here: see Burns , Howard , ‘ San Lorenzo in Florence Before the Building of the New Sacristy: An Early Plan ’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz , 23 ( 1979 ), pp. 145 –54Google Scholar . Any evidence of a door in this position was eradicated when a large arch was inserted by Verrocchio for the erection of the Tomb of Piero and Giovanni de’ Medici.

8 Today the sacristy is more visible from the nave than it would have been when first built as it can be glimpsed through the opening around the tomb of Piero and Giovanni de’ Medici, an opening that did not exist when the Old Sacristy was first conceived.

9 For an analysis of sacristy functions, see Haines , Margaret , The ‘Sacrestia delle Messe’ of the Florentine Cathedral ( Florence , 1983 )Google Scholar Hamlett , Lydia , ‘ The Sacristy of San Marco, Venice: Form and Function Illuminated ’, Art History , 32 ( 2009 ), pp. 458 –84CrossRefGoogle Scholar Ashley Elston, ‘Storing Sanctity: Sacristy Reliquary Cupboards in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy’ (doctoral thesis, University of Kansas, 2011) Davies , Paul , ‘ Giuliano da Sangallo e decorum negli edifici a pianta centrale: Santa Maria delle Carceri e la Sacrestia di Santo Spirito ’, in Giuliano da Sangallo , ed. Belluzzi , Amedeo , Elam , Caroline and Fiore , Francesco Paolo ( Milan , 2017 ), pp. 304 –18Google Scholar .

10 Florence, Archivio di Stato [hereafter ASF], Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 5: ‘Item quod in cappella Sanctorum Cosme et Damianj que est penes sacristiam novam dicte ecclesie et in cappella Sancti Johannis Evangeliste existente in dicta nova sacristia dicte eclesie constructis et edificatis per dictum Johannem ad incrementum divini cultus in eclesia memorata’. From this, it is clear that the chapel of St John the Evangelist is not the sacristy, but ‘in’ the sacristy. Any residual doubt is dispelled by a description later in the manuscript (f. 15) of ‘due nobilissime et sumptuose cappelle constructe nuper simul cum una ornatissima sacristia in dicta eclesia per dictum spectabilem et egregium virum Johannem’. This mid-fifteenth-century manuscript, which contains a series of documents associated with the establishment of canonries at the church, is central to the arguments advanced and is discussed in greater detail below.

11 For Giovanni di Bicci, see Dami , Brunetto , Giovanni di Bicci dei Medici nella vita politica: ricerche storiche (1400–1429) ( Florence , 1899 )Google Scholar De Roover , Raymond , The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, 1397–1494 ( Cambridge, MA , 1963 )Google Scholar and Kent , Dale , The Rise of the Medici: Faction in Florence 1426–1434 ( Oxford , 1978 )Google Scholar .

12 For the early fifteenth-century rebuilding of San Lorenzo and its history, see Hyman , Isabelle , Fifteenth-Century Florentine Studies: The Palazzo Medici and a Ledger for the Church of San Lorenzo ( New York and London , 1977 )Google Scholar Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, pp. 106–209 Caroline Elam, ‘Cosimo de'Medici and San Lorenzo’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, ed. Ames-Lewis, pp. 157–80 and Trachtenberg , Marvin , ‘ Building and Writing S. Lorenzo in Florence: Architect, Biographer, Patron, and Prior ’, Art Bulletin , 97 ( 2015 ), pp. 140 –72CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

13 For tomb types, see Butterfield , Andrew , ‘ Social Structure and the Typology of Funerary Monuments in Early Renaissance Florence ’, Res , 26 ( 1994 ), pp. 47 – 68 Google Scholar . The observation about preferences for a site in front of the high altar is also made in Sharon Strocchia, ‘Burials in Renaissance Florence’ (doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1981), pp. 365–67, and Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, p. 131.

14 Giovannni di Bicci's role in the patronage of the chapels has been perhaps unintentionally minimised in the literature. The inscriptions on the tomb and the document that refers to the ‘fondamenti di Chosimo’ (1422) have tended to lead scholars to emphasise the roles of Cosimo and Lorenzo in the patronage of the chapels. See, for example, Kent, Cosimo de' Medici, pp. 186–97, and Paoletti, ‘Fraternal Piety’, pp. 195–219. It is Giovanni di Bicci who is named as patron in the earliest surviving documents — see ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 1v: ‘Sane pro parte diletti filij Johannis Bicci de Medicis civis florentini, nobis nuper exhibita petitio continebat quod ipse qui de bonis sibj creditis aliquam in celestibus portiunculam dirigere gestiens apud eclesiam Sanctj Laurentij florentinj in qua preter priorem eiusdem novem canonicatus et totidem prebende fore noscantur notabilem cum duabus inibj pro celebratione missarum cappellis sacristiam opere non modicum sumptuoso, de novo edificarj et construj facere coepit ad ipsius incrementum cultus’.

15 It should be noted that Giovanni di Bicci's preference for the sacristy was not dictated by the dedication of its chapel to St John the Evangelist — Giovanni's name saint — as the dedications were not preordained: they could easily have been swapped.

16 For this observation, see Saalman, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 116. It might be argued that there was nowhere for Giovanni di Bicci to be buried in the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian as the chapel stood over the entrance into the church's undercroft and thus there was no solid ground in which he could have been interred, but this argument does not stand up to scrutiny. The sacristy has the same problem, and he is in fact buried in the pier supporting the floor. Had Giovanni di Bicci wished to use the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian as his mausoleum, it would not have been impossible to design a different access point to the undercroft, given that the chapel of Sts Cosmas and Damian and the sacristy were the first parts of the new church to have been built.

17 See, for example, Klotz, Filippo Brunelleschi, p. 130. For subsequent literature on the Santa Trinita sacristy, see Jones , Roger , ‘ Palla Strozzi e la sagrestia di Santa Trinita ’, Rivista d'arte , 37 ( 1984 ), pp. 9 – 106 Google Scholar , and Bulgarelli , Massimo , ‘ La sagrestia di Santa Trinita a Firenze: architettura, memoria, rappresentazione ’, Quaderni dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Architettura , 57 / 59 ( 2011 –12), pp. 25 – 36 Google Scholar .

18 Tomas , Natalie R. , The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence ( Aldershot , 2003 ), pp. 14 – 16 Google Scholar .

19 Haines , Margaret , ‘ The Sacristy of S. Maria Novella in Florence: The History of its Functions and Furnishings ’, Memorie domenicane , 11 ( 1980 ), pp. 576 – 626 Google Scholar .

20 For the marriage of Onofrio Strozzi to Giovanna Cavalcanti, see Heather Gregory, ‘Palla Strozzi's Patronage and Pre-Medicean Florence’, in Patronage, Art, and Society in Renaissance Italy, ed. Kent and Simons, pp. 201–20, esp. p. 209.

21 Haines, The ‘Sacrestia delle Messe’, pp. 23–26.

22 For the complicated patronage history of the Santa Croce sacristy, besides the studies of Haines cited above, see Jacks , Phillip and Caferro , William , The Spinelli of Florence: Fortunes of a Renaissance Merchant Family ( University Park, PA , 2001 ), pp. 162 –65Google Scholar .

23 No proper survey of fifteenth-century sacristies has yet been attempted, and this would be well worth pursuing.

24 For the Busini patronage of the old sacristy in San Salvatore al Monte, see Chiara Capulli, ‘“La Chiesa bellissima di Sancto Francesco in Monte”: Experiencing a Franciscan Observant Church in Renaissance Florence’ (MPhil dissertation, University of Cambridge, 2016), p. 37. Tommaso di Francesco Busini, the sacristy's founder, was buried there in 1442.

25 Walter , and Paatz , Elisabeth , Die Kirchen von Florenz: ein kunstgeschichtliches Handbuch , 6 vols ( Frankfurt am Main , 1940 –54), II, p. 58Google Scholar .

26 Bertagna , Martino , ‘ Il convento dell'Osservanza di Siena e le sue vicende strutturali dal 1495 ai giorni nostri ’, Archivum Franciscanum historicum , 57 ( 1964 ), pp. 110 –53Google Scholar .

27 Trachtenberg, ‘On Brunelleschi's Old Sacristy’, pp. 9–34.

28 This example does not entirely correspond to San Lorenzo. While the Old Sacristy was the largest ‘space’ in the church, it was not itself a chapel, as discussed above.

29 Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, pp. 111–33.

30 Cohn , Samuel , The Cult of Remembrance and the Black Death: Six Renaissance Cities in Central Italy ( Baltimore, MD , 1997 )Google Scholar .

31 ‘In nomine domini anni MCCCXXVII del mese di Febraio si difico et comincio questa chappella per Bivigliano et Bartolo et Salvestro Manetti et per Vanni et Pietro Bandini de Baroncielli ad honore et reverentia del nostro signore iddio e della sua madre Beata Vergine Maria Annuntiata al chui onore l'avemo cosi posto nome per rimedio et salute delle nostre anime et di tutti i nostri.’

32 Haines, ‘The Sacristy of S. Maria Novella in Florence’, p. 586, n. 36.

33 De Roover, The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, pp. 10–14.

34 See the description of the character of Giovanni di Bicci by his great-nephew in Cavalcanti, Istorie fiorentine, I, pp. 261–68.

35 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155. See, above all, David Peterson, ‘San Lorenzo, the Medici and the Florentine Church in the Late Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries’, in San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, ed. Gaston and Waldman, pp. 62–102, esp. pp. 81–83. This manuscript was noted in Susan McKillop, ‘Dante and lumen Christi: A Proposal for the Meaning of the Tomb of Cosimo de'Medici’, in Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, ed. Ames-Lewis, pp. 245–301, esp. pp. 264–65 and in Crum, ‘Donatello's Ascension of St John’, p. 148.

36 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, ff. 2r–17r.

37 Although the documents specify that the canonries were established to care for the souls not just of the founder, but also of his family and friends, it is clear that their principal purpose was to care for the former.

38 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, ff. 1r–2r.

41 For the date of the final agreement, see ibid., filza 155, f. 1. Another document, published in Baldini, Brunelleschi e Donatello, p. 102, records that a meeting took place on 8 November. See Florence, Archivio Capitolare di San Lorenzo [hereafter ASL], 2866, Filza di quaderni di ricordi 1389–1533, f. 2r. The description of the meeting provided by the ricordi, however, is so close in detail to the one that definitely took place on 28 November that it is likely the date as written in the libro de ricordi is simply a transcription error.

42 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 17r.

44 ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155, f. 6v.

45 See, for example, ASL, 2051, f. 1v.

46 See Gaston, ‘Liturgy and Patronage in San Lorenzo’, pp. 111–33

47 Inclina domine (from Psalm 86): ‘Turn thy ear, Lord, and listen to me in my helplessness and my need. Protect a life dedicated to thyself rescue a servant of thine that puts his trust in thee. In thee, my own God have mercy, O Lord, for mercy I plead continually comfort thy servant's heart, this heart that aspires, Lord, to thee. Who is so kind and forgiving, Lord, as thou art, who so rich in mercy to all who invoke him? Give a hearing, then, Lord, to my prayer listen to my plea when I cry out to thee in a time of sore distress, counting on thy audience. There is none like thee, Lord, among the gods none can do as thou doest. Lord, all the nations thou hast made must needs come and worship thee, honouring thy name, so great thou art, so marvellous in thy doings, thou who alone art God.’

Deus Veniae Largitur (from Office for the dead): ‘O God the giver of pardon, and the lover of human salvation, we beseech thy clemency: that thou grant the brethren of our congregation, kinsfolk, and benefactors, which are departed out of this world, blessed Mary ever virgin making intercession with all the saints, to come to the fellowship of eternal blessedness.’

Fidelium deus (from Office for the dead): ‘O God the creator, and redeemer of all the faithful, give unto the souls of thy servants — men and women — remission of all their sins: that through Godly supplications they may obtain the pardon which they have always wished for. Who livest and reignest world without end.’

48 The document is dated 21 January 1429 (1430 according to the Gregorian calendar). In it, Giovanni di Bicci, who died on 20 February 1429, is referred to as already dead.

49 The table is based on the various volumes of Obblighi in ASL and on ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, filza 155.

50 See Chiffoleau , Jacques , La Comptabilité de l'au-delà: les hommes, la mort et la religion dans la région d'Avignon, à la fin du Moyen Age (vers 1320–vers 1480) ( Rome , 1980 ), pp. 323 –56Google Scholar Johnson , Geraldine , ‘ Activating the Effigy: Donatello's Pecci Tomb in Siena Cathedral ’, Art Bulletin , 77 ( 1995 ), pp. 445 –59CrossRefGoogle Scholar , esp. pp. 454–55.


Church of Santo Spirito

It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi he started the designs for the church as early as 1428. Brunelleschi followed a very strict geometrical plan to design a perfection of forms plus proportion. The first pillars of the church were delivered in the year 1446, ten days before he died. After he died, the works were continued by his followers Giovanni da Gaiole, Antonio Manetti and Salvi d'Andrea also, the latter was responsible for the cupola construction.

Unlike Basilica di San Lorenzo, where the ideas of Brunelleschi thwarted, here, Brunelleschi's ideas were followed with some level of fidelity, in the ground plan as well as up to the arcades level. The Latin cross plan was designed like that to maximise the grid legibility. Also, the contrast between transept and nave that caused the difficulty at Basilica di San Lorenzo, was avoided. The chapel sides, in niches form, which is all the same size, run along the whole perimeter of the space.

The facade that Brunelleschi designed was never built, it was left blank and plastered over later. In the year 1489, an octagonal sacristy and columned vestibule designed by Giuliano da Sangallo and Il Cronaca (Simone del Pollaiolo) respectively, were built, this was to the left side of this building. A door was then opened up in the chapel to make the link to the church.

In 1601, Gherardo Silvani and Giovanni Battista Caccini added a Baroque baldachin that has polychrome marbles over the high altar. The Church of Santo Spirito remained undecorated until the eighteenth century when its walls were plastered. Salvi d'Andrea designed the inner façade, and it still has the original window (made of glass) with the Pentecost that Pietro Perugino designed. Baccio d'Agnolo designed the bell tower in 1503. The exterior of this building was restored in the year 1977-78.

The Church of Santo Spirito is characterised by columns dividing the church into 3 aisles, and they surround the high altar, similar to S. Lorenzo. On the side walls, there are pilasters and the building has a coffered ceiling, which wasn't part of the building's original design. Brunelleschi designed the ceiling to be left open for a beautiful image of the walls that reach up to the heavens. That was, and it still is, a classic design by Brunelleschi: a cavernous but still harmonious space. As Brunelleschi did in S. Lorenzo church, the classic mathematically symmetric architecture was emphasised by dark grey pietra serena stonework and white walls. Moreover, more emphasis was added using the colour contrast: the stone beautifully stretches in arches from a column to the next one.

Notably inapposite, is a fanciful carved, ornate, and a high altar Baldacchino that's statue-studded, a baroque work dating from the early seventeenth century. Between the mid-late 1400s, the battle of the pulpits occurred here. It was between a Dominican friar known as Savonarola, who for a while used to be a great influence, especially on the civic and religious affairs of Florence as well as Mariano da Genazzano, a public Girolamo Savonarola opponent who spent his life studying the Augustine teachings.

When people are walking around the outside of this church, they'll be struck by its stark appearance: there are no decorations like those of San Miniato or Santa Croce, or ornamentation and pillars like that seen in Santa Trinita. However, it wasn't left unfinished like S. Lorenzo. Alongside the building's exterior wall, the coats of arms are seen over the windows. They belonged to those families whose chapels are seen on the other side of these windows. The actual façade is typically from 1792, and it was decorated mainly with painted architectural detailing, which was later removed in the sixties during restoration work.

Brunelleschi envisioned all the sides of this church flanked with a loggia, same as that seen at Innocenti Museum located in Piazza Santissima. However, it did not come about as that would have required the façade to be changed. Also, Brunelleschi originally wanted the piazza and church facade to overlook the 241-kilometre river Arno, but it was not possible to purchase all the property that was on the other side because not everyone was willing to sell the property. The interior of the church hosts a wealth of attractive pieces of artwork. A stroll through the Santo Spirito church plus the abundant natural light, definitely makes it easy to acknowledge the beauty within. The pieces in the church include works by Andrea Orcagna, Michelangelo and Perugino.

The Church of Santo Spirito has a history that is unique. The Augustinian monastery that is annexed to this church used to be a meeting place for scholars. The early humanists met here: both Giovanni Boccaccio and Francesco Petrarca were regular guests in this church. Giovanni left the library he had to the convent. The earlier church provided hospitality to an eighteen-year-old Michelangelo (an Italian architect, painter, sculptor plus poet of the High Renaissance) after the death of Lorenzo Il Magnifico (his patron). The church allowed Michelangelo to dissect as well as study the bodies that were coming from the hospital of the convent. Studying human anatomy was an essential part of the education of an artist. In exchange for that privilege, he sculpted a wooden crucifix visible in the Sacristy. It is a frail, languid adolescent Christ, far from the powerful figures that the artist worked on later, but quite touching in his vulnerability.


7. Palazzo di Parte Guelfa hall

The Palazzo di Parte Guelfa is a historic building in Florence which used to serve as the headquarters of the Guelph party in the city. It was built during the Middle Ages in the 13th century.

Brunelleschi is credited with the design of the hall on the first floor which was built between 1420 and 1445. Multiple additions were made to the building later on and it has been restored several times over the centuries. The Palazzo / Sailko / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en


Basilica of San Lorenzo By Filippo Brunelleschi #ilmaBlog #Architecture #History

The Basilica of San Lorenzo is considered a milestone in the development of Renaissance architecture. The basilca has a complicated building history. The project was begun around 1419, under direction of Filippo Brunelleschi, Lack of funding slowed the construction and forced changes to the original design. By the early 1440s, only the sacristy (now called the Old Sacristy) had been worked on as it was being paid for by the Medici.

In 1442, the Medici stepped in to take over financial responsibility of the church as well. Brunelleschi died in 1446, however, and the job was handed either to Antonio Manetti or to Michelozzo scholars are not certain. Though the building was “completed” in 1459 in time for a visit to Florence by Pius II, the chapels along the right-hand aisles were still being built in the 1480s and 1490s.

By the time the building was done, aspects of its layout and detailing no longer corresponded to the original plan. The principal difference is that Brunelleschi had envisioned the chapels along the side aisles to be deeper, and to be much like the chapels in the transept, the only part of the building that is known to have been completed to Brunelleschi’s design.

The most celebrated and grandest part of San Lorenzo are the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels) in the apse. The Medici were still paying for it when the last member of the family, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, died in 1743. Almost fifty lesser members of the family are buried in the crypt. The final design (1603–1604) was by Bernardo Buontalenti, based on models of Alessandro Pieroni and Matteo Nigetti. Above is the Cappella dei Principi(Chapel of the Princes), a great but awkwardly domed octagonal hall where the grand dukes themselves are buried.

The style shows Mannerist eccentricities in its unusual shape, broken cornices, and asymmetrically sized windows. In the interior, the ambitious decoration with colored marbles overwhelms the attempts at novel design (Wittkower, R. p. 126). At its centre was supposed to be the Holy Sepulchre itself, although attempts to buy and then steal it from Jerusalem failed.

For more information on the work of Filippo Brunelleschi click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!


Watch the video: Brunelleschi, Old Sacristy (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Pirmin

    remarkably, very useful information

  2. Akinocage

    You have hit the mark. I like this thought, I completely with you agree.

  3. Megar

    It together. This was and with me.

  4. Jayvee

    Logical, I agree

  5. Taumuro

    I think you are wrong. I'm sure. Email me at PM, we will talk.

  6. Iorwerth

    Incidentally, this thought occurs right now



Write a message