Florence Cathedral - Table of Contents
    ..................   Mario Salvadori, Why Buildings Stand Up

Facade - Florence Cathedral
  (S. Maria del Fiore)
Florence, Italy

Construction:

1296-c.1367, except for the unfinished facade and the dome

Architects:

Style:

Tuscan Gothic
Exterior materials:
The exterior is notable for the geometric patterning of its facade made from Tuscan Romanesque style  encrusted marble:
White marble from Carrara
Green marble from Prato
Pink/red  marble from Siena
Size:
Largest church in Europe when it was completed in the 15th century
Name origin:
Dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, the Virgin of the Flower, in 1412, a clear allusion to the lily [fleur-de-lis]  the symbol of the city of Florence.
Alternate name: Il Duomo
"Perhaps the most important part of this church, however, was the part that was not built with the rest of the church.  This was the enormous dome which covers the crossing, a dome so large and notable that after it was built, its name came to be synonymous with the church itself (“Il Duomo”).  ....   It was not until Filippo Brunelleschi, one of the greatest Renaissance minds, devised a plan to build the dome around 1425 that the crossing was finally covered."  -
ItalianRenaissance.org (online April 2020)

See also: Mario Salvadori, Why Buildings Stand Up
Distinction:  The cathedral complex, including the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site

February 2020 Photos

Gothic?

Few Italian architects accepted the northern Gothic style and the question has been raised as to whether it is proper to speak of buildings like Florence Cathedral as Gothic structures.

Begun in 1296 by and so large that it seemed to the fifteenth century architect Leon Battista Alberti to cover "all Tuscany with its shade," the cathedral scarcely looks Gothic. Most of the familiar Gothic features are missing: the building has neither flying buttresses nor stately clerestory windows, and its walls are pierced only by a few relatively small openings.

Like the facade of San Miniato al Monte, the building's surfaces are ornamented in the old Tuscan fashion, with marble-incrusted geometric designs to match it to the eleventh-century Romanesque  Baptistery of San Giovanni nearby. Beyond an occasional ogival (pointed arch) window and the fact that the nave is covered by rib vaults, very little identifies this building as Gothic.

Florence Cathedral clings to the ground and has no as aspirations to flight. All emphasis is on the horizontal elements of the design, and the building rests firmly and massively
on the ground Simple, geometric volumes are defined clearly and show no tendency to merge either into each other or into the sky. The dome, though it may seem to be rising because of its ogival section, has a crisp, closed silhouette!that that sets it off emphatically against the sky behind it.


Sources:

  • "Gardner's Art Through the Ages, Tenth Edition," by Richard G. Tansey and Fred S. Kleiner. Harcourt Brace College Pub. 1996
  • "A History of Architectural Styles," by Fritz Baumgart. Praeger Pub. 1970
Facade


" It should be noted that the facade of the cathedral does not date to the Renaissance, but instead to the nineteenth century.  Unlike in countries to the north, facades in Italy were considered to be lesser in importance and were put on at the end – and in this case, several centuries after the rest of the church was already built.  " - ItalianRenaissance.org (online April 2020)   ...  
...   Left: Baptistery    ...    Right: Campanile/Bell tower   ...  Cathedral facade has 3 bays, each of which will be considered separately below:




Center Bay


Center Bay
Corbel table   ...   Encrustation   ...   Bas-relief



Center Bay
Watch tower   ...   Parapets feature sexfoils    ...    Corbel table



Center Bay
Rose window




Center Bay
Rose window details:   Acanthus leaf molding   ...   Encrustation    ...   Trefoils   ...   Polychromatic marble



Center Bay
Encrustation



Center Bay
Three details below:


Center Bay
Detail #1 - Queen of Heaven



Center Bay
Detail #2 - Multifoil arch   ...   Twisted columns



Center Bay
Detail #3 - Mandorla



Four
mosaic details below:


Center Bay  
Mosaic detail #1 - Jesus depicted as Salvator Mundi   ...   Next to Jesus: Mary, his mother, and St. John the Baptist



Center Bay  
Mosaic detail #2 - Salvator Mundi


Center Bay
Mosaic detail #3



Center Bay



Center Bay
Reproduction bronze middle doors   ...   The original doors, as well as the two other  facade double doors, are  found in the  Museum of the Opera del Duomo located across the square behind the Cathedral    ...   8 details below:


Center Bay - Top left door



Center Bay - Top right door



Center Bay - Middle left door



Center Bay - Middle right door
Coronation



Center Bay - Lower middle left door



Center Bay - Lower middle right door



Center Bay - Lower  left door



Center Bay - Lower  right door




Left bay


2002 photo   ...  
Left bay 


Left bay 


Left bay
Compound marble arch    ...  
Mosaic


Left bay
Queen of Heaven
mosaic



Left bay
Door surround    ...    Three details below:


Left bay
Door surround - Detail #1 -   Fabulous examples of incrustation



Left bay
Door surround - Detail #2



Left bay
Door surround - Detail #3





Right bay


Right bay



Right bay



Right bay



Right bay
Mosaic



Right bay



Right bay






Photos and their arrangement 2020 Chuck LaChiusa
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