timeline of world history

Then Again


Art of Classical Civilizations


Art of the Middle Ages

Art of the Modern Period


© thenagain info  All rights reserved.




Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, Brunelleschi, was born in Florence, Italy in 1377. He was born into a wealthy and prominent family. As a result of this, Filippo learned to read, write, and use an abacus at an early age. From his childhood years, Filippo had a keen interest in painting and drawing. His father supported this interest and apprenticed him to a goldsmith. In his new position, he proved to be a genius.  In 1401 Filippo Brunelleschi was chosen to compete with Ghiberti for the construction of the second door of the church of San Giovanni. Brunelleschi was confident in his work and created a beautiful sculpture out of bronze depicting the Sacrifice of Isaac . The individuals who were judging the art were torn between the sculpture of Ghiberti and Brunelleschi. They decided to allow them to work together on the project. Brunelleschi refused. 

Back to the "Renaissance Art" Chronology

Brunelleschi was a little disheartened at the outcome of the Ghiberti competition and decided to go to Rome. He was joined by Donatello and here they studied every Roman structure and sculpture they could find. Through these studies Brunelleschi rediscovered the art of perspective. He came to understand the reductions and enlargements of near and distant objects as perceived by the eye of man and that the figures and objects have to be in correct proportion to the distance in which they are shown. Brunelleschi was said to have consummated two paintings using perspective between 1415 and 1420, but they are now lost. 

In 1419, he returned to Florence. While he was there, the consuls and wardens in charge of the construction of the Santa Maria del Fiore asked for his advice. He told them to gather a group of architects, engineers, and mathematicians and they would all talk about the dome which was to be built.  At this meeting, Brunelleschi rejected almost all of the ideas brought forth. He made it clear that he knew how to put the dome up in a very simple style. Nobody believed him; instead, they ridiculed him. His persistence convinced many individuals that he did in fact know what he was talking about. They finally told him to put it into writing. Brunelleschi did and was reluctantly given the job on a trial basis. If he successfully got up to a certain point in the construction, then he would be allowed to complete the dome.  Brunelleschi proved to be a success. His ingenuity and skill resulted in the construction of the first dome since the time of the Romans. "The dome itself consists of two octagonal vaults, one inside the other. Its shape was dictated by its structure. Brunelleschi made a design feature of the necessary eight ribs of the vault, carrying them over to the exterior of the dome, where they provide the framework for the dome's decorative elements, which also include architectural reliefs, circular windows, and a beautifully proportioned cupola."

After this project, Brunelleschi was never doubted again. He was the most well-known architect of his time and one of the most gifted of all time. He was commissioned to do many other projects. Some of these projects still remain unfinished because of his death on April 16, 1446, in Florence. He is buried in his magnificent Santa Maria del Fiore.


Hyman, Isabella. Brunelleschi in Perspective. Prentice Hall Incorporated. 1974.

Klotz, Heinrich. Filippo Brunelleschi: The Early Works and the Medieval Tradition. Academy Editions: London. 1990. \

Prager, Frank. Brunelleschi, Studies of his Technology and Inventions. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. 1970.

Tuccio Manetti, Antonio. The Life of Brunelleschi. The Pennsylvania State University Press. 1970.

Filippo Brunelleschi. Encarta Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. 1997.

Edited, Researched and Written by:
Eram Alam
Kasia Lipinski
Mercedes Romero
October 13, 1999

Text copyright 1996-2020 by ThenAgain.All rights reserved. 

WebChron Index Introduction Glossary Then Again