The archetypal Renaissance building. Brunelleschi’s colonnade (1419-26) for the Spedale degli Innocenti (see p95) is a masterpiece of restrained Classical design. Europe’s first orphanage, the Spedale is also a major social monument.
Della Robbia roundel from the Cappella de’ Pazzi (1430) under astute Medici leadership, Florence enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. Rich bankers and merchants invested in fine palaces to replace their cramped tower houses, and paid for the adornment of churches. The result was an outpouring of art and architecture, remarkable for its break with the Gothic past and its conscious attempt to give rebirth to Classical values. The rediscovery of works by ancient philosophers like Cicero and Plato profoundly influenced the intellectual preoccupations of the day. Their ideas inspired the Humanists, who emphasized the role of knowledge and reason in human affairs.
The thriving . Florentine textiles industry allowed the textile guilds and merchants like the dye importer Rucellai (see pl04) to become patrons of the arts.
arches illustrate the Florentine passion for ancient Roman architecture.
Terracotta roundels of babies in swaddling bands, added by Andrei della Robbia in 1487, reflect the building’s function as an orphanage.
1402 Florence Baptistry doors competition (see p66)
1416 Donatello completes his St George (seep67)
1425-7 Masaccio paints The Life of St Peter frescoes in Santa Maria del Carmine (see ppl 26-7)
1436 Brunelleschi completes dome for Florence cathedral (see pp645). Work starts on San Marco (see pp96-7)
Most of Florence was rebuilt during the Renaissance. Highlights include San Lorenzo (see pp90-91), Masaccio’s frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel (ppl26-7), many paintings in the Uffizi
(pp80-83) and the sculptures at the Bargello (pp68-9).
Pienza Diiorno (1459)
Pope Pius II’s plans for a model Renaissance city at Pienza (p222) were never fully realized.
San Marco Cloister (1437) Cosimo il Vecchio paid for Michelozzo’s cloister (pp96-7) and used it as a retreat.
By studying a broad range of subjects, from art to politics, the Humanists fostered the idea of Renaissance man, equally skilled in many activities.
A favourite Florentine subject (see p77), Verrocchio’s bronze emphasizes David’s youth and vulnerability.
Pazzi Family Emblem
The wealthy Pazzi were disgraced after trying to assassinate Lorenzo the Magnificent and seize control of Florence in 1478.
1464 Death of Cosimo il Vecchio
1469 Lorenzo the Magnificent comes to power
Grey sandstone and white plaster contrasts radically with the rich surface ornamentation of late medieval architecture.
1454-66 Piero della Francesca’s The Legend of the True Cross (see ppl 96- 7)
1478 Pazzi conspiracy
1485 Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus
1492 Death of Lorenzo the Magnificent
Lorenzo the Magnificent
1480 Botticelli’s Primavera. The villa at Poggio a Caiano begun (see pi61)
Photo Gallery Spedale Degli Innocenti
Spedale Degli Innocenti Images