(b. ca. 1350, Bologna, d. ca. 1402, Bologna)

Interior view

begun 1390
San Petronio, Bologna

The San Petronio in Bologna, Antonio di Vincenzo's major work, is the final climax to the chapter of Italian brick construction opening with San Francesco in Bologna. The building of San Petronio started in 1390 and reached substantially its present state in 1525. By 1400 only the first two nave bays were complete, and Antonio died c. 1402. Despite the virtual suspension of the work until 1445, the pattern was, however, firmly enough set for the design of the nave, which was all that was ever completed, to be considered an essentially fourteenth-century conception. Originally in 1390 a Latin-cross plan of some kind was intended. Later, in 1514, a revised plan in the form of a Latin cross was proposed with the intent to outdo even Saint Peter's Basilica of Rome, the greatest church of the Western Christian world even in its ancient version. According to tradition, Pope Pius IV halted such a majestic project.

In the interior the piers and capitals and pilaster forms are clearly derived from the Duomo in Florence. Important is the influence on the interior of the running rhythms of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, the airiest Gothic church in Italy. Large oculi, set high up in the walls, spread even light throughout the building. The height of the nave is thoroughly exploited by the soaring continuity of its supports. The eye is drawn to an unbroken and identical succession of vaults that both accentuates the length of the building and speeds the flow towards the altar. The chapels flanking the nave contain many important works of art, altarpieces, frescoes, windows, and others. The ciborium above the altar was made by Vignola.

The facing of the main façade remains unfinished: many architects (notably Baldassarre Peruzzi, Vignola, Andrea Palladio and Alberto Alberti) were commissioned to propose solutions for it, but a definitive one was never found. Jacopo della Quercia enriched the main doorway with sculptures.

View the ground plan of San Petronio, Bologna.