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7 - Bramante and the Emblematic Facade

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2010

Charles Burroughs
Affiliation:
State University of New York, Binghamton
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Summary

AVOIDING ANTITHESIS: LATE FIFTEENTH-CENTURY FLORENCE

In the “building boom” of later fifteenth-century Florence, an array of grand new palaces jostled the civic buildings that had hitherto given the city its visual identity, and inscribed on the skyline the ascendancy of private over public interests. Most impressive of all, the Palazzo Sforza still dominates its neighborhood with its sheer bulk and expanse of expensively worked stone reaching from the built-in bench at ground level to the mighty cornice marking the upper limit (Fig. 10). In these respects, as in its conspicuous rustication, the Palazzo Strozzi belongs to a group of palaces that overtly echo the Palazzo Medici (Fig. 3); a conspicuous example is the Palazzo Gondi (Fig. 47). Deferential recognition of Medicean cultural as well as political leadership was of course a feature of Lorenzo's “masked principate,” when the family palace became the center of an exemplary, quasiprincely court. Nevertheless, certain striking points of contrast between the Palazzo Medici, and many of its aristocratic satellites throughout the city, are of particular significance in the discussion of the evolution of facade types.

The traditional organization of Florentine palace facades in distinct horizontal fields found sophisticated expression at the Palazzo Medici. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, however, there was a marked tendency to treat the facade as a single, homogeneous surface, often of markedly sober character. This departure from the Medicean model was not, or not necessarily, politically motivated; as we saw in Chapter 5, some houses of this type belonged to close associates of the Medici.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Italian Renaissance Palace Façade
Structures of Authority, Surfaces of Sense
, pp. 133 - 150
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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