It began with a competition over a commission to create bronze doors. It turned into a professional rivalry that changed the world forever.
This book chronicles the story of how the Renaissance began, from the time of that competition, through the design and construction of Brunelleschi’s fabled “dome that won the war,” to the deaths of both men decades later, as well as the highlights, improvements, and artisans that popped up in those intervening years. More than an overview, this book goes into considerable depth over the men, the works, and the events portrayed here. The politics and development of Quattrocento Florence is laid out in brief that the reader might understand the place of the guilds and rise of the Medici within this context, but the focus is all on the maestros and those who immediately followed, such as Donatello.
One of the big points for me is that the author gives Brunelleschi full credit for the machines he created… many of which were later copied by and given credit to Leonardo da Vinci. It’s sometimes difficult to wrap our heads around after so many centuries of assumed knowledge, but credit should go where it’s due after all.
For an art / history geek like myself, this book is exactly the sort of thing I’ve been craving, where it’s more than biography, deeper than an standard overview, and detailed enough to offer greater understanding of the subject matter. If you’re not familiar with either of these artists and have an interest in the Renaissance, this book is for you. If, like myself, you are familiar, then this book should serve to strengthen your understanding on some levels.