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Michelozzo di Bartolommeo

(1396—1472) Italian architect and sculptor


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(1396–1472).

Florentine architect and sculptor of the Early Renaissance, a contemporary of Brunelleschi. He worked first with Ghiberti (1417–24) and later with Donatello (c. 1425–32), with whom he designed and made a series of architectural funerary monuments. Around 1427 he designed the loggia and court for the Medici villa at Careggi, near Florence, having already remodelled the villa at Trebbio (c.1422). The influence of the essentials of Renaissance architecture and Brunelleschi's work is clear from his reconstruction of the cloister, refectory, cells, and public rooms at the Church and Monastery of San Marco, Florence (c. 1437–52), including the light, elegant, triple-aisled, vaulted library. Michelozzi's best-known work is the enormous astylar Palazzo Medici (later Riccardi), Florence (1444–59), which has the lowest storey faced with rock-faced rustication and pierced with arched openings, channel-rusticated piano-nobile with regularly spaced semicircular Florentine arches, and a top storey of smooth ashlar, the whole held down under a massive cornicione. Behind this powerful exterior he designed an arcaded cortile (with echoes of Brunelleschi's Foundling's Hospital) that was to be enormously influential. Michelozzo was also responsible for the remarkable tribune in Santissima Annunziata, Florence (1444–55), one of the first centrally planned domed spaces of the Renaissance, with a polygonal plan off which are radiating apsidal chapels. Inspired by Brunelleschi's unfinished Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence (1434), it is even more strongly related to the Antique Roman temple of ‘Minerva Medica’, of c.ad 250, and was completed by Alberti. At Santa Maria delle Grazie, Pistoia (from 1452), he used the cross-in-square plan of central and four subsidiary domed spaces.

Michelozzi was capomaestro of Florence Cathedral (1446–55) and supervised the building of the lantern on the great dome. He designed the fortress-like villa at Cafaggiolo, Mugello (c.1452), the much more elegant Villa Medici, Fiesole (c. 1458–61), remodelled the Palazzo Comunale, Montepulciano (1440), and designed the Hospital of San Paolo dei Convalescenti, Florence (1459). Although he was credited with introducing Florentine Brunelleschian ideas to Lombardy in the Portinari Chapel, Sant'Eustorgio, Milan (1460s), based on the Old Sacristy in San Lorenzo, Florence, this attribution is now rejected, as is his authorship of the Medici Bank, Milan.

Caplow (1977);Ferrara & Quinterio (1984);Heydenreich (1996);Lotz (1977);Morisani (1951);Placzek (ed.) (1982);Jane Turner (1996)

Plan of Palazzo Medici, Florence, showing central cortile.

(left) Temple of ‘Minerva Medica’, Rome (c. ad 250). (right) East end of the Church of Santissima Annunziata, Florence, by Michelozzo di Bartolommeo, begun 1444. A Renaissance solution to the problem by direct reference to Roman Antiquity.

Subjects: Architecture.


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