#33 Brunelleschi & The Dome IV
November 16, 2018
#35 The Avignon Popes – Part I
December 1, 2018

#34 Brunelleschi & The Dome V

  • BTW – in 1421, Bruno was awarded the world’s first ever patent for invention.
  • The patent describes Bruno as “a man of the most perspicacious intellect, industry and invention,”
  • And this document granted him a patent of monopoly for “some machine or kind of ship, by means of which he thinks he can easily, at any time, bring in any merchandise and load on the river Arno and on any other river or water, for less money than usual.”
  • This ship was called  Il Badalone, “the Monster.”
  • According to the terms of the patent, any boat copying its design, and thereby violating Filippo’s monopoly, would be condemned to flames.
  • The design of the boat is a bit of a mystery.
  • Might have had paddles like a paddle steamer.
  • Di Prato again said it was doomed to fail.
  • He wrote a poem where He called Bruno a “pit of ignorance” and a “miserable beast and imbecile,” and promised to commit suicide should Filippo’s plan succeed.
  • Lucky for him – he didn’t have to kill himself.
  • Bruno promised the Opera his boat would be able to ship all of the marble they needed from Carrara cheaper and faster.
  • Unfortunately on its maiden voyage, something went wrong – we don’t know what.
  • But the marble never arrived.
  • And the Opera forced him to replace it with his own money.
  • BTW in 1423, two years after Filippo finished building his hoist, a Sicilian adventurer named Giovanni Aurispa returned from Constantinople with a hoard of 238 manuscripts written in Greek, a language that scholars in Italy had learned only in the previous few decades.
  • Among these treasures were six lost plays by Aeschylus and seven by Sophocles, as well as works by Plutarch, Lucian, Strabo, and Demosthenes.
  • But there was also a complete copy of the works of the geometer Proclus of Alexandria and, even more important for engineers, a treatise on ancient lifting devices, the Mathematical Collection of Pappus of Alexandria.
  • This latter work, from the fourth century A.D., describes the windlass, the compound pulley, the worm and wheel, the screw and the gear train—all essential features of hoists and cranes.
  • In the decades that followed, so many manuscripts on Greek mathematics and engineering emerged that it is possible to speak of a “renaissance of mathematics” in fifteenth-century Italy.
  • But even if Bruno had got his hands on these manuscripts in time to help with the dome, he wouldn’t have been able to read them, as he couldn’t read Latin or Greek.
  • Manetti also suggests another inspiration for the ox-hoist.
  • He claims that Bruno, while still a young goldsmith, built a number of mechanical clocks equipped with “various and diverse generations of springs.”
  • Which, if true, is amazing, because spring-loaded clocks weren’t used for another hundred years when metallurgical techniques were refined enough that it became possible to manufacture resilient wire.
  • There’s no other evidence for this, except a drawing made decades later.
  • He also invented GASLIGHTING.
  • Tell the Fat Carpenter story.
  • With the Dome finished, the city proved itself as good – or greater – than Ancient Rome in architecture.
  • A new sense of self-esteem.
  • But then came the lantern, the bit up the very top.
  • Bruno must have thought that after all this time, he’d proven himself and they’d just let him design the fucking lantern.
  • But no.
  • In 1436 he had to undergo another competition.
  • Gibbo didn’t have to sit through another competition when he finished the first set of doors.
  • Imagine Bruno’s indignation.
  • And of course Gibbo is competing for this work as well, Along with some other guys.
  • Including Antonio di Ciaccheri Manetti – not to be confused with the Manetti who was his biographer.
  • This Manetti was a colleague and friend.
  • Who now became a competitor.
  • After a long period of deliberation, Bruno’s design is declared the winner.
  • EXCEPT – the Opera tell him to BE COOL – and let Manetti offer up one more design.
  • He apparently said “hey I’ve got a cool new idea”.
  • So Manetti did produce another design – and it was pretty close to Bruno’s.
  • Bruno apparently said “Hey let him do another one and it’ll be exactly like mine.”
  • So Bruno gets the job.
  • His design (now on display in the Museum Opera del Duomo) was for an octagonal lantern with eight radiating buttresses and eight high arched windows.
  • Construction of the lantern was begun a few months before his death in 1446.
  • Octagonal in shape, the lantern sits on a marble platform supported by the sandstone chain.
  • Its eight buttresses rise in line with the eight ribs of the dome to support 30-foot-high pilasters crowned with Corinthian capitals.
  • Between the pilasters are eight windows, each also 30 feet in height.
  • The interior features a small dome above which a spire rises 23 feet, to be topped by the bronze ball and a cross.
  • Inside one of the buttresses (all of which are hollow in order to decrease the weight of the lantern) a stairway leads to a series of ladders, which in turn lead up through the spire and into the bronze ball itself.
  • This giant ball is fitted with a small flap-window that, at 350 feet above the streets, offers Florence’s loftiest panorama.
  • In all, over a million pounds of stone would need to be raised to the top of the cupola.
  • Then, for 15 years, little progress was possible, due to alterations by several architects.
  • Including Manetti who was made the new capo maestro, and he pushed through some of his own changes to the design of the lantern, so he got the last laugh.
  • The lantern was finally completed by Brunelleschi’s friend Michelozzo  starting in 1461.
  • The conical roof was crowned with a gilt copper ball and cross, containing holy relics, by Verrocchio in 1469.
  • Ball is made of gilded bronze and has a diameter of 2 meters and 30 centimeters and weights almost 2000 kilo
  • This brings the total height of the dome and lantern to 114. meters (375 ft).
  • This copper ball was struck by lightning on 17 July 1600 and fell down.
  • It was replaced by an even larger one two years later.
  • The commission for this bronze ball [atop the lantern] went to the sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio, in whose workshop there was at this time a young apprentice named Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Fascinated by Filippo’s [Brunelleschi’s] machines, which Verrocchio used to hoist the ball, Leonardo made a series of sketches of them and, as a result, is often given credit for their invention.
  • Leonardo might have also participated in the design of the bronze ball, as stated in the G manuscript of Paris “Remember the way we soldered the ball of Santa Maria del Fiore”.
  • The decorations of the drum gallery by Baccio d’Agnolo were never finished after being disapproved by no one less than Michelangelo.
  • Brunelleschi died April 1446 probably just after the laying of the first stone for the lantern.
  • It wasn’t finished until 1471.
  • BTW – the façade that’s on the Duomo today, the red, green and white marble, which was part of Neri’s original design, wasn’t added until the 19th century
  • The only surviving sketches of the original façade are in a mid-15th-century pen-and-ink drawing of this so-called Giotto’s façade in the Codex Rustici, and in the drawing of Bernardino Poccetti in 1587, both on display in the Museum of the Opera del Duomo.
  • This façade was the collective work of several artists.
  • This original façade was completed in only its lower portion and then left unfinished.
  • It was dismantled in 1587–1588 by the Medici court architect Bernardo Buontalenti, ordered by Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici, as it appeared totally outmoded.
  • The competition for a new façade turned into a huge corruption scandal.
  • And was left bare until the 19th century.
  • Work began in 1876 and was completed in 1887.
  • This neo-gothic façade in white, green and red marble forms a harmonious entity with the cathedral, Giotto’s bell tower and the Baptistery, but some think it is excessively decorated.

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