Showing posts with label High Renaissance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label High Renaissance. Show all posts

11 April 2023

Donato Bramante - architect and painter

Father of High Renaissance style left outstanding legacy

Bramante made his mark in Rome in the 16th century
Bramante made his mark in
Rome in the 16th century
The architect and painter Donato Bramante, credited with introducing High Renaissance architecture to Rome, died on this day in 1514 in Rome, probably aged around 70.

Bramante, who was also a perspectivist painter, worked in Milan before moving to Rome, where he produced the original designs for St Peter’s Basilica and built several buildings and structures considered to be masterpieces of early 16th century architecture.

These include the Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio on the summit of the Janiculum Hill, the Chiostro di Santa Maria della Pace near Piazza Navona, the Cortile del Belvedere and Scala del Bramante in the Vatican and the Palazzo della Cancelleria, located between Campo de' Fiori and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.

Bramante was born Donato di Pascuccio d'Antonio in around 1444 to a well-to-do farming family in Fermignano, a town in what is now the Marche region, a few kilometres south of Urbino. He was also known as Bramante Lazzari. 

Little is known of his early life, although it is possible he worked on the construction site of Federico da Montefeltro's Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, having trained under its architect, Luciano Laurana.

He moved to Milan in 1476 and the first work definitively attributed to him was in Bergamo, 50km (31 miles) or so to the northeast, where he painted murals, notably on the facade of the Palazzo del Podestà in 1477. His mastery of perspective is thought to have been influenced by Piero della Francesca, his contemporary.

In Milan, Ludovico Sforza appointed Bramante his court architect on the recommendation of his brother, Cardinal Ascanio Sforza. His work there included the a rectory and cloisters of the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, which featured his characteristic use of arches, and alterations to the church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie - famously the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s fresco The Last Supper - where he added a cloister, a rectory and a dome surrounded by columns. 

Bramante's original design for the dome of St Peter's Basilica
Bramante's original design for the
dome of St Peter's Basilica
In 1499, however, Bramante’s time in Milan came to an abrupt end in 1499, when Ludovico Sforza was driven out by an invading French army. Bramante moved to Rome.

There, he immersed himself in the study of the architecture of ancient Rome, which would influence the style that became known as High Renaissance.

He became known to Giuliano della Rovere, the Cardinal who was the future Pope Julius II, his biggest patron. It was Julius who commissioned Bramante to build a new St Peter's, replacing the basilica erected by Constantine in the fourth century, which he envisaged would be the greatest Christian church ever constructed. 

There was a competition organised, which Bramante won with a design based on an enormous Greek-cross structure topped by a central dome inspired by that of the huge circular Roman temple, the Pantheon. However when Pope Julius died in 1513, his successor replaced Bramante with Giuliano da Sangallo and Fra Giocondo, and the commission then passed to Raphael in 1514, a few months after Bramante’s own death. It was not until 1547 that Michelangelo took over as chief architect, making substantial changes to Bramante's original plan.

St Peter’s Basilica apart, Julius II employed Bramante on many more projects, including whole complexes of buildings, fountains and street layouts as the pontiff set about a programme of urban regeneration. 

Among these, his Cortile del Belvedere - Belvedere Courtyard - a long, rectangular courtyard connecting the Vatican Palace with the Villa Belvedere in a series of terraces, linked by stairs, influenced the design of courtyards across Europe.

The Tempietto di San Pietro is considered a Bramante masterpiece
The Tempietto di San Pietro is
considered a Bramante masterpiece
His Scala del Bramante, meanwhile, though described as a staircase, was in fact a ramp, an innovative double-helix spiral connecting the Vatican's Belvedere Palace to the outside world of Rome. Lined with granite Doric columns and featuring a herringbone paving pattern, it was designed to allow Julius II to enter his private residence while still in his carriage.  

Two of Bramante’s most acclaimed masterpieces, those that earned him the description of Father of the High Renaissance, were the cloister at Santa Maria della Pace, commissioned by Cardinal Oliviero Carafa around 1500, with a magnificent upper gallery characterised by alternating Corinthian pilasters and columns, and the Tempietto di San Pietro, commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, a circular temple composed of slender Tuscan columns, modelled after the ancient Roman Theatre of Marcellus.

An extrovert character who wrote poetry and music, Bramante was a close friend of Raphael, in whose fresco The School of Athens he depicts Bramante as the mathematician, Euclid.

The town of Fermignano can be found  a few kilometres south of Urbino
The town of Fermignano can be found 
a few kilometres south of Urbino
Travel tip:

Fermignano, Bramante’s birthplace, has a history that dates back to Roman times, when it was the location for the defeat of Hannibal’s Carthaginian army, led by his brother, Hasdrubal, in 207BC.  Significant buildings include the Delle Milizie tower and a Roman bridge over the Metauro river. A former paper mill located in Via Santa Veneranda used to be rented out by the Montefeltro family. The church of San Giacomo  in Compostela is an important historical monument with 14th and 15th century frescoes. A contemporary art gallery in the town is named after Bramante.

The rectangular Cortile del Belvedere, designed by Bramante, can be found in the Vatican City
The rectangular Cortile del Belvedere, designed by
Bramante, can be found in the Vatican City
Travel tip:

The Vatican City, which contains some of Bramante’s most significant work, occupies an area of 44 hectares (110 acres) within the city of Rome and has approximately 1,000 citizens. Since 1929, it has enjoyed the status of the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population. It came into existence when an agreement was signed between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See to recognise the Vatican as an independent state. The treaty - known as the Lateran Treaty - settled what had been a long-running dispute regarding the power of the Popes as rulers of civil territory within a united Italy.  The treaty was named after the Lateran Palace where the agreement was signed and although the signatory for the Italian government was the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, succeeding democratic governments have all upheld the treaty.

Also on this day:

1512: The Battle of Ravenna

1890: The birth of dictator’s wife Rachele Mussolini

1987: The death of writer and Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi



3 November 2017

Annibale Carracci – painter

Bolognese master produced his most influential work in Rome

A self-portrait of Annibale Carracci
A self-portrait of Annibale Carracci
The Baroque painter Annibale Carracci was born on this day in 1560 in Bologna.

Annibale and his followers were to become highly influential in the development of Roman painting, bringing back the classical tradition of the High Renaissance.

He was probably apprenticed as a painter with members of his own family in Bologna. But his talents began to develop during a tour of northern Italy in the 1580s. He lodged in Venice with the painter Jacopo Bassano, whose style of painting influenced him for a time.

Annibale has been credited with rediscovering the early 16th century painter Correggio, who had almost been forgotten outside Parma. Annibale’s Baptism of Christ, painted in 1585 for the Church of San Gregorio in Bologna, is a brilliant tribute to him.

In 1582 Annibale opened a studio in Bologna with his brother, Agostino Carraci, and his older cousin, Ludovico Carracci. While working there, Annibale painted The Enthroned Madonna with St Matthew in 1588 for the Church of San Prospero in Reggio.

By the time Annibale collaborated with the other two Carracci on frescoes in the Palazzo Magnani (now the Palazzo Salem) and two other noble houses in Bologna, he had become the leading master among them.

Carracci's Madonna Enthroned with St Matthew hangs in a gallery in Dresden
Carracci's Madonna Enthroned with St
hangs in a gallery in Dresden
In 1595 Annibale went to Rome to work for the rich, young cardinal Odoardo Farnese, who wanted the principal floor of his palace decorated with frescoes.

In Rome, Annibale studied Michelangelo, Raphael and ancient Greek and Roman art in order to adapt his style to his new surroundings.

After decorating the study in Palazzo Farnese, he was joined by his older brother, Agostino, in the chief enterprise of his career, painting the frescoes of the coved ceiling of the Galleria with love fables from Ovid.

These decorations were considered to be a triumph of classicism tempered with humanity. The powerfully modelled figures in these frescoes have been seen as an imaginative response to Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The Galleria Farnese became an invaluable place for young painters to study until well into the 18th century and proved a rich feeding ground for Gian Lorenzo Bernini among others.

Annibale was underpaid for his long and intense labours in the Palazzo Farnese and he gave up working on it altogether in 1605.

Annibale's Baptism of Christ
Annibale's Baptism of Christ
He subsequently produced some of his finest religious paintings, including landscapes for the Palazzo Aldobrandini in Frascati that were to influence the work of Domenichino and Nicolas Poussin in Rome.

Annibale died at the age of 48 in 1609 in Rome after a few years of illness. He was buried according to his wish near Raphael in the Pantheon. Many of his assistants and pupils, such as Domenichino and Guido Reni, were later to become the pre-eminent artists for the next few decades.

Part of the ceiling at the Palazzo Fernese in Rome
Part of the ceiling at the Palazzo Fernese in Rome
Travel tip:

Palazzo Farnese, where Annibale Carracci did some of his best work in the Galleria, is one of the most important High Renaissance palaces in Rome. Owned by the Italian republic, the palazzo in Piazza Farnese was given to the French Government in 1936 for a period of 99 years and currently serves as the French embassy in Italy. One of the scenes in Puccini’s opera Tosca is set in Palazzo Farnese.

Carracci is buried alongside Raphael at The Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda in the heart of Rome
Carracci is buried alongside Raphael at The Pantheon in
Piazza della Rotonda in the heart of Rome
Travel tip:

The Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda, is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome. It was built as a temple but was converted into a Christian church in the seventh century. The Pantheon now contains the tombs of painters and kings. Along with Annibale Carracci, King Umberto I of Italy, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Raphael are buried there.