(b. ca. 1400, Firenze, d. 1469, Roma)


Filarete (Antonio di Pietro Averlino), Florentine sculptor, architect and writer on art. His nickname is derived from the Greek for 'lover of virtue'. He probably trained with Ghiberti and his most important work in sculpture - the pair of bronze doors of St Peter's in Rome (1433-45) which include scenes from the life of Pope Eugenius IV - are heavily indebted to Ghiberti's doors for the Baptistery in Florence, although much less accomplished. After being expelled from Rome for allegedly stealing a relic, Filarete went to Florence and Venice, then in 1450 settled in Milan. There he worked mainly as an architect, his principal work being the Ospedale Maggiore (begun 1457, completed in the 18th century), which helped to introduce the Renaissance style to Lombardy and created new standards of comfort and sanitation in hospital design.

His novel ideas came out also in his Trattato d'architettura (Treatise on Architecture), written in 1461-64. (This book was called by Vasari "perhaps the most stupid books ever written".) It includes a vision of a new city, Sforzinda (named after his patron Francesco Sforza), which is the first symmetrical town-planning scheme of modern times. Among his ingenious proposals for his ideal city was a Tower of Virtue and Vice, a ten-story structure accommodating a brothel on the ground floor and an astronomical observatory at the top.