year is 1418 and Florence, Italy has decided to complete itís new cathedral
with a dome befitting its stature as one of the richest and most cultured cities
in the world. The merchant guild
decides to hold a competition to determine who will be given the honor of
designing and constructing the dome for the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.
To everyoneís surprise the winning design is submitted by an unknown
goldsmith named Filippo Brunelleschi.
This is just the beginning of what is one of
the most amazing stories Iíve ever read.
Not only does Brunelleschiís design win the competition, but also his
design proposes a construction plan that would revolutionize architectural
principles forever. His ideas
were so revolutionary that as the dome was built he had to develop new tools and
machines to implement his ideas. Many
of these inventions have been cited as key factors in fanning the flames of the
If Ross King had stopped with simply telling
the story of the domeís construction, the book would be readable. However, Mr. King moves far beyond that by revealing the
politics of the Arts during the Renaissance.
After reading this book one might wonder how anything ever got built,
sculpted, or painted due to the extreme rivalry that existed between artists of
Once all is said and done this book is about
one manís efforts to complete one of the most ambitious building projects of
all time. The dome was
Brunelleschiís life work and it took him over twenty-five years to complete it
. The fact that he could stay
focused on his goal for so long with so many setbacks is a true inspiration.
And in case youíre still not impressed, the dome of Santa Maria del
Fiore at 143 feet in diameter and over 340 feet tall is still the largest stone
dome in the world. No one has
bested Brunelleschi in almost 600 yearsÖ