BRUNELLESCHI, Filippo
(b. 1377, Firenze, d. 1446, Firenze)

Ospedale degli Innocenti

1419-26
Photo
Piazza della SS. Annunziata, Florence

In summer 1426, Brunelleschi completed the loggia (porch) of the Foundlings Hospital, which cared for the city's abandoned children from birth to apprenticeship or marriage. Recalling the vocabulary of Roman architecture, the symmetry of its round-headed arches imparted a visual clarity that was unprecedented in Florence.

An arcade with pilasters, or engaged columns attached to piers carrying an entablature, is known as a Roman arcade. During the late empire this was replaced by arches that rested on the capitals of a row of columns, a style that was standard in the Romanesque and Gothic periods and that was revived and widely used during the Renaissance. An example is Brunelleschi's Ospedale degli Innocenti in Florence.

The Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents, or Foundling Hospital) as Bruneleschi's his first major architectural commission. Although the portico of the hospital is composed of many novel features, morphologically it still is related to traditions of Italian Romanesque and late Gothic architecture. The truly revolutionary aspects of the building emanated from Brunelleschi's intuitive sense of the formal principles of the classical art of antiquity. The Innocenti façade offered a new look in Florentine architecture and a marked contrast to the medieval buildings that preceded it. Its lingering late-medieval echoes were subordinated to the new style that provided the façade with its antique air: a wall delicately articulated with classical detail (such as Corinthian capitals, pilasters, tondi, and friezes), modular construction, geometric proportions, and symmetrical planning.

View the ground plan of Ospedale degli Innocenti.




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