Vasari's Lives of the Artists Chapter X: Brunelleschi.

It's been well over a month since I blogged about Vasari's Lives of the Artists because, in all truthfulness chapter ten, 'The Life of Filippo Brunelleschi, Sculptor and Artist', was not only particularly lengthy, but I didn't feel I got so much out of it: this, I think, is one of the challenges of reading about artists many of whom I haven't heard of. But these posts are mainly for images so, as with other posts, I'll write briefly and then get to some of his works. It is worth noting, though that this is a very long chapter. A quick look at the contents tells me this seems to be only second to the penultimate chapter on Michelangelo, and is far longer than those of Raphael, da Vinci, Titian, Botticelli, and Donatello, all artists who I thought may get a longer section.

The Life of Filippo Brunelleschi, Sculptor and Architect
[1377 - 1446]

"Nature has created many men who are small and insignificant in appearance but who are endowed with spirits so full of greatness and hearts of such boundless courage that they have no peace until they undertake difficult and almost impossible tasks and bring them to completion, to the astonishment of those who witness them. No matter how vile or base these projects may be, when opportunity puts them into the hands of such men, they become valuable and lofty enterprises."

An intriguing start! Vasari goes on to praise Brunelleschi, writing that "it might well be said he had been sent to us by Heaven to give us a new form of architecture which had been going astray for hundreds of years". He adds that he was also very virtuous, and the finest friend anyone could hope to have.

Vasari gives some biographical details, Brunelleschi's parents and upbringing for example, then turns to his teachers and his professional life and accomplishments in architecture, as well sculpture and even making jewellery when times were hard.

Here are some of his works:

Nave of the Santo Spirito, Florence.

The dome of Florence Cathedral.

Sacrificio di Isacco.
Church of Santa Felicita in Florence.

Next time: The Life of Donatello, Florentine Sculptor.


  1. i've read a study of B's building the first free-standing dome and it was entrancing... it was by Ross King and it covered the long and tedious dealings with Florentine authorities and how B dealt with the many and complex problems associated with the actual construction... i admit to a fascination with medieval construction techniques and with the amazing cathedrals they were able to build with comparatively primitive tools...

    1. Brunelleschi's Dome! I read it too! I so enjoyed that book. I love Florence; I've visited there twice and never tire of it. And I love the time period in which Brunelleschi lived too.

    2. That sounds more interesting than Vasari. Not to say I'm not enjoying Vasari, far from it, but this chapter's haunted me for a month - really didn't get anything from it at all!


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