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Renaissance Architecture

By Villaflores29 Mar 29, 2013 1001 Words
Assignment No. 2
09 February 2013
History of Architecture II

Renaissance Architecture in Italy

Renaissance in Italy is best considered geographically under the three great distinctive cities of activities. Florence, Rome and Venice.
Florence. One of the chief powers of Italy. A centrally situated city-state. The Florentines notonly exerted considerable influence over the whole of Tuscany but carried Renaissance architecture, which originated with them, much farther afield.

Rome. The distressed Medieval city began to recover its prestige and unique influence while the Renaissance was taking root in Florence, and soon popes were reviving its glories in fine architecture. The ruins of ancient Rome supplied the models for new buildings.

Venice. Its high-point took place during the Medieval period and continued in the Renaissance times. Located in the Venetian lagoon, protected by a belt of islands.


Florence. The quarries of Tuscany yielded ample fine stone. Siena supplied of yellow and white marbles. From Carrara came the famed white marble- The Luna marble of Roman times- and also colored. In the Milan region, where brick and terra-cotta were normal, colored marbles could be obtained.

Rome. Good building stone of many varieties was available, the finest being travertine. In previous periods, Renaissance builders often found the decaying pagan buildings a much more handy source.

Venice. The city was devoid of suitable materials, but brick earths were accessible on the nearby mainland, and by easy water carriage system, stones, timber and marbles could be obtained according to need.


Florence. Bright and sunny climate rendered large windows not only unnecessary but also unsuitable. Open courts, sheltering colonnades and low-pitched roofs were present.
Rome. The narrow streets of Italy gave protection to the sun and winter cold.
Venice. Due to the extreme heat of summer sun tempered by sea breezes, balconies were usual.

Architectural Character

The Renaissance in Italy may be divided broadly into three main periods:
Early Renaissance – Fifteenth century
High Renaissance and Proto-Baroque – Sixteenth century
Baroque –Seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries

Florence. A type of palace-building evolved to which huge blocks of rusticated masonry give an unusually massive and rugged appearance. There is an absence of pilasters as decorations for the facades. The columnar arcade is a favorite feature not only in courtyards but also in streets. Early renaissance churches are conspicuous for refinement, in strong contrast to the fortress-like characters of the palaces. Florence contains many examples of Early Renaissance architecture.

Rome. The Early Renaissance in Rome is comparatively unimportant, though some great buildings were completed in the various Papal States. Roman palaces have “four-square” majesty and dignity. Classic orders were used as giant arrangement to extend the whole height of the building. The Byzantine-type centralized church plan retained its popularity. Palaces maintained their cliff-like character, and generally were astylar, their planning now extremely adept and incorporating grand axial staircases and dignified ceremonial apartments, often of circular, elliptical or other regular geometric shapes. Church facades were richly ornated with clusters of pilasters and columns, and have great vigour of expression. Unity is strongly marked.

Venice. The architecture of Venice is, in general, lighter and more graceful than of Florence. A notable Venetian feature is the central grouping of windows, marking deep rooms behind the comparatively flat palace facades which outline the waterways. Balconies are graceful important features, their projection s adding to the play of light and shade. Palace plans normally were compact, owing to the cramped and precious sites.

Notable examples:
Early Renaissance examples in Florence
* Foundling Hospital, Florence (1421-45)
* Dome of Florence Cathedral (1420-34)
* S. Lorenzo, Florence
* S. Spirito, Florence

High Renaissance and Proto-Baroque Examples
* Palazzo Micheletti, Lucca
* Ponte S. Trinita, Florence

Baroque Examples
* Palazzo Durazzo-Pallavicini, Genoa
* Palazzo dell’ Universita, Genoa

Early Renaissance Examples – Rome
* Ducal Palace, Urbino
* Palazzo di Venezia, Rome

High Renaissance and Proto-Baroque Examples
* Palazzo della Cancelleria, Rome
* S. Maria della Pace, Rome

Baroque Examples
* S. Susanna, Rome
* Palazzo Barberini, Rome

Early Renaissance Examples – Venice
* Doge’s Palace, Venice
* Palazzo Corner Spinelli, Venice

High Renaissance and Proto-Baroque
* Palazzo Bevilacqua, Verona
* Palazzo Pompeii, Verona

Baroque Examples
* S. Maria della Salute, Venice
* Palazzo Pesaro, Venice

Renaissance Architecture in France

Paris became center to which the new Renaissance influence radiated from.

Throughout France there was good building stones. Iron, wrought and cast, came into use as a building material shortly after 1780.

The climate asserted its influence on architecture in demanding a continuance of large windows, high-pitched roofs and lofty chimneys, which differentiated Renaissance architecture in France from that in Italy.

Architectural Character
The Renaissance style in France, which took root about seventy-five years later than in Italy, may be divided into three periods: a) The Early Period
- Early buildings of the period in Italy were principally churches. The special character of this transition period lies in the combination of Gothic and Renaissance features to form a picturesque ensemble. The principal buildings in France were castles in the country round Paris and on Loire foe the king and his courtiers. b) The Classical Period

- The period is notable for dignity, sobriety and masculine quality of its foremost buildings, resulting from the subordination of plan, composition and detail of the unity of the whole and the clarity and simplicity with which the elements were used. Ornament, though somewhat coarse, is vigorous and reasonably restrained. In the earlier part of the period brick is much favored as a building material, usually in conjunction with stone and stucco. c) The Late Period

- Very modest residence and town hotels were erected in this period. Rooms were planned for independent approach rather than in sequence, now being interlocked in compact arrangements with many devices of circular, oval, curvilinear, or polygonal shape to facilitate compression and produce diverting visual effects.

Notable examples:
Secular Architecture
* Chateu le Blois.
* Chateu de bury
* Chateu de Chambord
* The Louvre, Paris
* Chateu de Maisos
* Palais du Luxumberg, Paris

Ecclesiastical Architecture
* Tomb of Louis XII
* S. Eustache, Paris
* S. Gervais, Paris

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