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La Rinascita….

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Quattrocentro:  Italian Renaissance Architecture


The Beginning


The word “renaissance” was derived from the Italian phrase la rinascita (meaning rebirth).  This term was first seen in Vasari’s The Lives of the Artists (1550-1568).  The Renaissance style was recognized in the Italian term meaning in the ancient manner of (the Romans).


Historians generally divide the Renaissance in Italy as having three phases:  Renaissance (ca. 1400-1500) is also known as the Quattrocento or sometimes Early Renaissance, High Renaissance (ca. 1500-1525), and Mannerism (ca. 1520-1600).  Architectural historians, however, equate the awful economic conditions of the late 14th century as not being able to construct the fine buildings equated to the Renaissance.


In the Quattrocento, concepts of architectural order were explored.  Rules were written and put into practice.  The study of classical antiquity led in particular to the adoption of Classical detail and ornamentation. 


The idea of space as an element of architecture changed radically.  In the Middle Ages, space was organized by an architect’s intuition.  Many Medieval buildings reflect this.  During the Italian Renaissance, architectural space was determined by proportional logic.  Its form and rhythm was subject to geometry.  The prime example of this is the Basilica San Lorenzo in Florence by Fillipo Brunselleschi.



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