Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King
How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

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Synopsis

On August 19, 1418, a competition concerning Florence's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore--already under construction for more than a century--was announced: "Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome....shall do so before the end of the month of September." The proposed dome was regarded far and wide as all but impossible to build: not only would it be enormous, but its original and sacrosanct design shunned the flying buttresses that supported cathedrals all over Europe. The dome would literally need to be erected over thin air.

Of the many plans submitted, one stood out--a daring and unorthodox solution to vaulting what is still the largest dome (143 feet in diameter) in the world. It was offered not by a master mason or carpenter, but by a goldsmith and clockmaker named Filippo Brunelleschi, who would dedicate the next twenty-eight years to solving the puzzles of the dome's construction. In the process, he did nothing less than reinvent the field of architecture.

Brunelleschi's Dome is the story of how a Renaissance genius bent men, materials, and the very forces of nature to build an architectural wonder we continue to marvel at today. Denounced at first as a madman, Brunelleschi was celebrated at the end as a genius. He engineered the perfect placement of brick and stone, built ingenious hoists and cranes to carry an estimated 70 million pounds hundreds of feet into the air, and designed the workers' platforms and routines so carefully that only one man died during the decades of construction--all the while defying those who said the dome would surely collapse and his own personal obstacles that at times threatened to overwhelm him.

Even today, in an age of soaring skyscrapers, the cathedral dome of Santa Maria del Fiore retains a rare power to astonish. Ross King brings its creation to life in a fifteenth-century chronicle with twenty-first-century resonance.
 

About Ross King

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Ross King is the highly praised author of Brunelleschi's Dome (the Book Sense Nonfiction Book of the Year in 2000), Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling (on the New York Times extended bestseller list), The Judgment of Paris, Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power, and two novels, Ex Libris and Domino. He lives outside Oxford in England.
 
Published August 13, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA. 208 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, Travel, Professional & Technical, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Brunelleschi's Dome

Kirkus Reviews

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A compelling (if a touch overly detailed) look at Florence, its architecture, and one of its artisans.

Apr 07 2015 | Read Full Review of Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Re...

Kirkus Reviews

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We read about the painstaking brick-laying techniques that Florentine builders used, the professional rivalries that occasionally dragged master craftsmen to the level of soap opera, and the religious and architectural reasons that Gothic builders “sought to fill their churches with plenty of lig...

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Publishers Weekly

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Walker was the hardcover publisher of Dava Sobel's sleeper smash, Longitude, and Mark Kurlansky's steady-seller Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. This brief, secondary source-based

Oct 02 2000 | Read Full Review of Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Re...

Publishers Weekly

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British novelist King (previously unpublished in the U.S.) compiles an elementary introduction to the story of how and why Renaissance Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) designed and oversaw the construction of the enormous dome of Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral--desig...

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BookPage

Ross King's account of the building of Brunelleschi's Dome, the gargantuan centerpiece of renaissance Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, is both a portrait of a driven man and the age in which he lived.

Apr 07 2015 | Read Full Review of Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Re...

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