Arts & Culture | Artistic Humanism | Renaissance | Classical
Among the earliest humanist projects was the recovery and study of classical architecture. Many buildings from the Roman period still stood (some stand today); others were in ruins from which the originals could just be discerned. Study of these remains with reference to recently recovered classical architectural treatises led to a new school of architecture. The leader of this school was Filippo Brunelleschi. A native Florentine, Bruneschelli travelled to Rome early in the fifteenth century to study classical architecture. The result of his study is evident in his first major achievement – the dome of the Cathedral at Florence. Brunelleschi worked on a plan in which a single measurement dominated the entire architectural structure. This gave his buildings a sense of balance and perfection that still strikes visitors today. S Maria Maggiore in Rome, built between 1442 and 1465, is a gem of squares, rectangles and circles all in harmonious proportion to one another.
Late fifteenth- and sixteenth-century painters drew on classical architecture both literally – in the incorporation of architectural features into their paintings – and more generally in the use of proportion, perspective and other features that they had learned from architectural theory. One of the most brilliant examples of both of these is Raphael’s School of Athens (c. 1510), in which a classical subject allows for the representation of an architectural space, which in turn lends perspective to the group.
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