FILIPPO'S DOME by Anne Rockwell


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One part biography, one part history, one part art and architecture: a classifier's nightmare, but a treat for the right (perhaps rare) child. ""In all the land there seemed to be no one capable of constructing the dome"" that would cap Florence's greatest church. As a boy, Filippo Brunelleschi served as apprentice to a goldsmith, evincing sensitivity in sculpting and skill in mechanics; he mastered sculpture and turned his attention to architecture, the all-encompassing art of dealing with space and constructing soundly. Later, he went to Rome to study the techniques of ancient architects, especially as embodied in domes. When the great competition for the Florentine dome was held, he was ready. How Fillipo gained the commission and achieved his dream rounds out this unusual narrative. Incidents showing his ingenuity abound: how to stand an egg upright (by cracking its shell at one end) and how to prove the incompetence of your unwanted collaborator (by playing sick and forcing him to take over). These episodes add a dimension of delight, somewhat offsetting the frequent interruptions to explain architectural and historical roots. These are integral and important; the book as a whole, including the fresh, fifteenth-century inspired full-page drawings, is important because it's integral--but its audience is restricted to those whose interests and potential for involvement outpace their years.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1967
Publisher: Atheneum