SANGALLO, Antonio da, the Elder
(b. ca. 1455, Firenze, d. 1534, Firenze)
Madonna di San Biagio: View of the exterior1518-34
Madonna di San Biagio, Montepulciano
In 1518, Antonio da Sangallo the Elder accepted one of the major commissions of the period, the pilgrimage church of the Madonna di San Biagio at Montepulciano. The church was built to commemorate a miracle that took place on one of the slopes surrounding the city, and thus Antonio had a site in the midst of a magnificent landscape with no preexisting constructions.
The church, on which he worked from 1518 until his death in 1534, was the most ambitious church building of the period with the exception of St. Peter's in Rome. Antonio chose a Greek-cross plan crowned with a dome. He eschewed the typically Florentine elegant surface with marble incrustation, however, and largely constructed his church of blocks of travertine that confer upon the building an unexpected massiveness. The main façade was to be flanked by free-standing towers, but only one was built.