(b. ca. 1386, Firenze, d. 1466, Firenze)

Old Sacristy

San Lorenzo, Florence

The building of the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo dates back to an endowment made by Giovanni Averardo de'Mdeici. The building, which was dedicated to St John, was decorated with episodes from his life, as he was Giovanni's patron saint. In 1421 Brunelleschi took on the task of directing the construction work on San Lorenzo, the Medici family church. Possibly as early as 1419, and certainly not later than 1422, work was began according to his plans on the construction of the Old Sacristy. Built on a square ground plan, the main building is one of the earliest central plan buildings of the Renaissance. Between 1434 and 1437, Brunelleschi was to follow it up Florence with Santa Maria degli Angeli, the first free-standing and pure central plan building.

The Old Sacristy shows the continuation of medieval building tradition in the main walls, which serve both bearing and weatherproofing functions, while the facing elements in pietra serena (the pilaster strips, capitals, trabeation, and arch frame) are innovative in their formal appearance, imitating structural functions while in reality they are merely ornamental. The structure of the umbrella dome, with its stone radial ribs and conoidal masonry webs, also harks back to medieval types.

The Old Sacristy was decorated by Donatello.

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