Historical BackgroundOver the years Florence has been home to many churches, public buildings and houses constructed in a Romanesque style or of a gothic architecture. Typically being in the style of Italian Goth, the cathedral of Florence dedicated to “Santa Maria del Fiore” (Fine Art America, 2018)The Major church in the Renaissance period was ‘Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore but as being built in the fourteenth century originating back to the middle ages, Italian cities competed to go forth and build bigger and better cathedral. The larger the buildings the greater they seemed.
Created by the eyes of artist Arnolfo Di Cambio (1245-1302). After classical styles became ever so popular new edifices within the classical style were then built among or added to stylised buildings of an older tradition. As approved, in 1294 the construction of the cathedral went ahead after it was approved and selected. Arnolfo di Cambio was in the design of a Gothic Italian era as a basilica with three naves and an enormous octagonal dome. In his plans Di Cambio had a vision to build a dome of unseen, gargantuan size but as time went along this was increased by size. In 1418, the architect Filippo Brunelleschi had received a commission to go forth with the dome. Midst 1420 – 1436 construction of dome were put forth by the brilliant innovations and great multitude to overcome diversity and achieve new heights behind structural engineering, which did not surpass in the years to follow. The project was left undone, as the only frame had been erected on the polygonal base of the dome in 1421.
Architects Lorenzo Ghiberti (1368-1445) and Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) took the win of the competition even though it had been the latter who actually built the dome. External Features Cathedral in the plan has a form of Latin cross. It is 153 metre long and 90 metre wide at the crossing. Florence Cathedral is the largest building in medieval Europe, it can contain up to 30000 people.
It pushed the limits of the construction technologies and for several centuries it was unsurpassed in many aspects.This building was that ambitious that a new approach in architecture had to be invented it marked the departure from the Gothic style and beginnings of the Renaissance architecture. Structurally it belongs to Gothic style except for the dome which is forerunner of Renaissance style.
(Thehistoryhub.com, 2018)The most surprising part of the cathedral is its dome. It looks oversized if compared to the rest of the cathedral and it was the largest dome in the world until 1881, with a diameter 45.
52 metres and height – 90 metres. It remains the largest masonry dome of the world up to this day.(Commons.wikimedia.
org, 2018)The polychrome exterior of Florence Cathedral is unusual for such giant buildings. Many sorts of marble have been used for it, mainly white marble from Carrara, green from Prato and red from Siena. Facade decoration was designed to create a uniform ensemble with the existing facades of Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile two outstanding buildings next to the cathedral, forming a single ensemble.
(Our Escapades, 2018)Although the façade was built in the 1800s, its design is true to the church’s medieval Gothic style that harmonizes with Giotto’s tower, using Tuscan marble inlaid with intricate designs and niches for statues. The alternating colors were chosen to exemplify the two basic principles of Florentine art: “rectitude and beauty.” Above the central doorway is a large rose window, with smaller ones at either side. The bronze doors have reliefs of Mary, to whom the cathedral is dedicated.
(Sharingtravelmemories.com, 2018)Interior FeaturesAfter the exuberance of the façade, you may be surprised by the sobriety inside. As in most Italian churches, the tastes of later generations altered the interior, but here these decorations were removed in still later work, restoring the almost unornamented grandeur of its soaring Gothic arches and stone pillars.Entering the cathedral, one is struck by the building’s vastness and the sobriety of its furnishings. The color and rich patterning of the exterior, which serve to relate the mass of the structure to the smaller scale of surrounding buildings. If compared to the exterior, interior of the cathedral seems almost austere. Nevertheless here are located important works of art.
Very valuable are 44 stained glass windows from the 14th and 15th century, made by such masters as Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno. Interesting artworks are the almost monochrome frescoes “Funerary Monument to Sir John Hawkwood” (Paolo Uccello, 1436) and “Equestrian statue of Niccolò da Tolentino” (Andrea del Castagno, 1456) both resemble the colors of marble stone.The enrichment of the interior with splendid pavements in colored marble, and temple-niches on the walls, in fact belongs to a later period, under the patronage of the grand dukes in the 16th century.
Inside, the original plan originally called for a timber truss roof, but in the mid-1300s this was changed to a ribbed groin vault. Flying buttresses were also called for in the original plan, but they were later scrapped. One of the notable features here is the size of the bays, which are quite a bit larger than the size of those found in Gothic churches being built in the 13th century to the north. The large arches used to create these bays meant that the church was much more open between its nave and side aisles, and visually the side aisles appear to be somewhat shallow. Together with the long, prominent molding above the arches, there was an emphasis in this church on horizontal elements. This is something that was typical of Italian tastes, and it differs from the tastes of those in places such as Germany and France where the great Gothic cathedrals were built with so much emphasis on their vertical elements.
(Museumsinflorence.com, 2018)Another difference between Santa Maria del Fiore and the Gothic churches to the north was the size of windows. Here, the windows are smaller. The desire to disintegrate walls in favor of “sheets of glass”, such as found in the Chapel of Sainte Chappelle in Paris, was clearly not present in Florence. There is also willingness in Florence to leave blank spaces on the walls of the cathedral. Under the dome is the choir with the high altar. The octagonal marble balustrade is decorated by 88 reliefs and the crucifix on the high altar was made in 1495-1497 by Benedetto da Maiano. Your eyes will be drawn up by the sheer enormity of the dome, although you could be forgiven for a nervous glance at the stone columns that seem to support its weight so effortlessly.
Inside the dome is the great fresco of the Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari, begun in 1572 and completed by Federico Zuccari in 1579. It’s hard to imagine concentrating on work while suspended on the inside of this dome. At the foot of the pillars supporting the drum are eight statues of apostles.(Pinterest, 2018)The floor finishes in the cathedral is mostly a mosaic and is made of marble. Much of the floor has geometric patterns.
The baptismal font is octagonal and was placed in the Baptistery in 1658, but is believed to be much older. So to end with in comparison, this is something typically expected from the Italians. Their tastes differ from those of originals in the likes of Germany or France where traditional styles like gothic cathedrals would’ve been built to emphasis their vertical elements. In conclusion semi circles are the symbol of hope, continuity and the strive of civilians gothic churches were more symbolic as cult, union and tendencies to withdraw certain characteristics. References Fine Art America. (2018).
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