(b. 1444, Fermignano, d. 1514, Roma)


Bramante (Donato D'Angelo) was the greatest architect of the High Renaissance. Most of his early career, which is ill-documented, seems to have been devoted to painting. He probably trained in Urbino and is first documented in 1477 working on fresco decorations at the Palazzo del PodestĂ  in Bergamo. In about 1480 he settled in Milan. Although he did produce a number of architectural works at this time (Santa Maria presso San Satiro, Santa Maria delle Grazie, cloisters of Sant'Ambrogio), it was his painting, especially his use of trompe l'oeil and the rigorous monumentality of the figures in solemn spatial contexts that influenced the Lombard school. The Brera Gallery houses the repositioned frescos of Men-at-Arms and the wood panel Christ at the Column. This is the only panel that can definitely be attributed to Bramante. The Sforza Castle contains his symbolic fresco Argus which he painted together with Bramantino.

Bramante left Milan after the fall of Ludovico Sforza (il Moro) and settled in Rome in 1499. Here he started his extraordinary reinterpretation of antiquity (the Tempietto next to San Pietro in Montorio left a deep impression on the artists of his own day, including Raphael). He designed the cloister of Santa Maria della Pace, and added a new choir to Santa Maria del Popolo.

Within a few years he had become the most important architect at the papal court. For Pope Julius II he undertook the overall redesign of the Vatican Palaces around the Belvedere courtyard. From 1506 onwards he did fundamental work on rebuilding St. Peter's which was later to be carried on by Michelangelo.

When Bramante died, a year after Julius, he received a magnificent funeral in St Peter's, where his body was brought for burial. His contribution to architecture was quite apparent to his immediate followers, and it was they who established his enduring fame. Many of Bramante's buildings and projects were recorded early. Although widely circulated through both drawings and foundation medals, Bramante's designs were transmitted most effectively by Serlio's treatise, which provides detailed descriptions and illustrations of most of his major Roman projects, including them in the book (III) that deals primarily with antiquities.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil KrĂ©n and Daniel Marx.