Filippo Brunelleschi

1377 - 1446

The church of San Lorenzo reflects the influence of classical architecture in its Corinthian columns and its geometric balance and harmony.


Brunelleschi was the father of Renaissance architecture and the most prominent architect in Italy, during his lifetime.


Filippo Brunelleschi, the son of a lawyer, was born in Florence, Italy in 1377. He began his career as an apprentice for a goldsmith.

Only six years after his apprenticeship, during 1398, Filippo passed his examination and became a guild master goldsmith.

Brunelleschi later discovered a hidden passion for mathematics and architecture. He began renovating town houses and buildings. This esteemed architect became friends with the distinguished sculptor, Donatello.

Filippo continued with his studies in Rome, not in his original trade, goldsmithing, but in architecture. Working with clocks, wheels, gears and weights, Brunelleschi developed his exceptional skills that would help him construct some of the greatest pieces of architecture in Renaissance history. Antonio Manetti wrote Filippo Brunelleschi's biography in his lifetime, 1423-1497.

Filippo Brunelleschi died on April 16, 1446, at the age of sixty-nine, after many years of contributing to Italian culture. He was laid to rest by the citizens of Florence, under the floor of the Cathedral of Florence.


Filippo formulated techniques for lifting construction materials into position and creating a self-supporting upper shell of domes.

Brunelleschi built many works of art in Italy. Here are a few of his most notable works:

  • the church of San Lorenzo
  • the church of San Spirito
  • the Pazzi Chapel
  • Santa Maria degli Angeli (in 1436)
  • the Pitti Palace
  • the Palazzo Quaratesi
  • Loggia at San Pero a Grada (near Piza)
  • the Cathedral of Florence
  • the Foundling Hospital (also known as Ospedale degli Innocenti)

The Cathedral of Florence was Brunelleschi's most prestigious work because of its dome or cupola. It was completed without supporting scaffolding, columns, arches or pilasters. The actual cathedral was started by Arnolfio di Cambio and built over 150 years. The dome was finished in 1436 and was 91 m high. Its point was sixteen meters high and thirty meters in diameter.

Brunelleschi brought new scaffolding, arches and hoists, and lighter masonry into Renaissance architecture.


Brunelleschi made a huge impact on architecture in the Italian Renaissance; his work was a model for much that followed. This outstanding Renaissance character developed the concept of linear perspective, showing depth on a flat surface. He also influenced some of the great minds, such as Michelangelo and Donato Bramante.

Filippo Brunelleschi created the Foundling Hospital, which still stands today, but not as a hospital; the Foundling Hospital is used as an orphanage for children. Filippo wrote a book called, Rules of Perspective, which was used as a text for many architects in the future.

This picture shows the Cathedral of Florence...the dome of this cathedral is one of Brunelleschi's most famous works.

Both the magnificent dome of this
famous church and many other devices,
invented by Filippo the architect,
bare witness to his superb skill.

Therefore, in tribute to his exceptional talents,
a grateful country that will always remember
buries him here in the soil below.

This epitaph was found inside the Cathedral of Florence's entrance.


1. Bender, Michael. Waiting for Filippo. Vancouver, Raincoast Book Distribution Limited, 1995. 2. Cast, David. "Brunelleschi, Filippo." Groliers Encyclopaedia (electronic version). 1995. 3. Rudd, J. William. "Brunelleschi, Filippo." World Book Encyclopaedia. 1994, vol. 2, pp. 661 - 662.

This page was prepared by Amy and Marcia, Grade 8, Riverdale Junior Secondary School.

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