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Brunelleschi's Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence [Kindle Edition]

Ross King
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Filippo Brunelleschi's design for the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence remains one of the most towering achievements of Renaissance architecture. Completed in 1436, the dome remains a remarkable feat of design and engineering. Its span of more than 140 feet exceeds St Paul's in London and St Peter's in Rome, and even outdoes the Capitol in Washington, D.C., making it the largest dome ever constructed using bricks and mortar. The story of its creation and its brilliant but "hot-tempered" creator is told in Ross King's delightful Brunelleschi's Dome.

Both dome and architect offer King plenty of rich material. The story of the dome goes back to 1296, when work began on the cathedral, but it was only in 1420, when Brunelleschi won a competition over his bitter rival Lorenzo Ghiberti to design the daunting cupola, that work began in earnest. King weaves an engrossing tale from the political intrigue, personal jealousies, dramatic setbacks, and sheer inventive brilliance that led to the paranoid Filippo, "who was so proud of his inventions and so fearful of plagiarism," finally seeing his dome completed only months before his death. King argues that it was Brunelleschi's improvised brilliance in solving the problem of suspending the enormous cupola in bricks and mortar (painstakingly detailed with precise illustrations) that led him to "succeed in performing an engineering feat whose structural daring was without parallel." He tells a compelling, informed story, ranging from discussions of the construction of the bricks, mortar, and marble that made up the dome, to its subsequent use as a scientific instrument by the Florentine astronomer Paolo Toscanelli. --Jerry Brotton,


"Compelling... professional jealousy, committee intrigue, feats of bluff and fascinating scraps of obsolete lore... Where Longitude had ocean wastes, Brunelleschi's Dome has vertigo" (Spectator)

"As each novel feat of genius engineering flowers high above the ground, details of scandals and pranks blow up from the city streets to create an altogether enchanting tale" (Dava Sobel, author of Longitude)

"An adventure yarn set on the wild frontiers of human knowledge... abounding with excellent stories" (Financial Times)

"A wonderfully vivid little book" (Daily Telegraph)


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1306 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 192 Seiten
  • Verlag: Vintage Digital (26. Januar 2010)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00351YF4I
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #201.801 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Von Wulf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
The book gives many background information about the construction of the dome. For me as an engineer it was worth reading, Nevertheless I could not fully understand some details regarding the statics of that building. Maybe because of my poor english...

Drawings look really bad in the kindle release of that book.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.4 von 5 Sternen  228 Rezensionen
140 von 144 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Longitude for Architects! 21. Oktober 2000
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Like Longitude, one of my most favorite books, Brunelleschi's Dome is a small gem. Author Ross King tells the story of the building of the dome atop Santa Marie del Fiore in Florence and along the way, treats you to a rich slice of Renaissance history. Much more than a great story (filled with details about everyday life in 15th century Italy, i.e. what they were eating, how they shopped, how bricks were made) this is a story of a man who used his intuition, faith and genius to propose a revolutionary method of building this famous dome. He used no wooden centering or flying buttresses which was totally radical for the time and he really had no way of predicting whether his plan would work or not. But it did and beautifully. If you're planning on visiting Florence, climb the steps to the top of the dome to see Brunelleschi's handiwork first hand. For example, he and his bricklayers used a unique herringbone pattern when laying the bricks that is clearly visible today. The story is also a human story. All the naysayers, competitiors, political enemies are here along with backbiting, and plotting. Brunelleschi himself had a wily streak and wasn't above lashing out at his competitors. One of the joys of this book is you actually feel like you're getting up each morning to see a day's work on the dome. And it's a very enjoyable way to spend some time. If you're interested, you can visit [...] and get a live view from atop the dome in Florence. A fascinating book.
93 von 95 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen New light on the history of a world famous building 13. Dezember 2000
Von John Campbell - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
You'd think it was scarcely possible to write yet another book on Renaissance Florence, and yet produce something fresh, original and illuminating. But Ross King has done exactly this - and what's more he's chosen as his subject one of the most familiar, most studied - and most visited - buildings in Europe, Florence cathedral. Every guidebook says that Brunelleschi designed the dome, or cupola, of the cathedral, and that it's the biggest masonry dome ever built. But to learn how it was built, you normally have to turn to some pretty specialised works of art history. Ross King has drawn on these. But he goes much further, and brings the Florence of the first half of the fifteenth century, and especially the people engaged in building the great cathedral, tremendously to life. Brunelleschi himself is portrayed as an argumentative and moody man, with no doubts of his own importance. But he also emerges as one of the most imaginative and daring architects and engineers of any era. His dome is shown to be not just an artistic triumph, and one of the defining structures of Western architecture, but also a technical masterpiece, studied by architects to this day. In many ways this book reminds one of Dava Sobel's "Galileo's Daughter". The style is very different, and Ross King writes of Florence two hundred years before Galileo, but in taking such an original and captivating look at an apparently familiar subject, "Brunelleschi's Dome" stands comparison. Certainly if you enjoyed one, you'll like the other.
73 von 77 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great Architect, Great Book 15. Oktober 2000
Von R. Hardy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Anyone who has been to the ancient Italian city of Florence recognizes the big dome that dominates the city. It is atop the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, and is larger than the dome of the US Capitol, St. Paul's in London, or even St. Peter's in Rome. It was built before any of them, in 1436. The architect, Filippo Brunelleschi, solved many problems to produce the wonder. He did away with any central scaffold on which to build the dome, and his design for such machines as an ox-powered hoist were innovative and useful. 70 million pounds of brick, mortar, marble, and more were hoisted into the air. The dome gradually rose, while below it were plagues, wars, jealous arguments against Brunelleschi, and financial problems. The book is exciting as it traces the progress of the dome, and it brings out the personality of Brunelleschi well. It gives details of Renaissance life, such as guilds, food, transportation, and brickmaking. Fascinating.
69 von 75 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Brisk Narrative, Busted Contract 12. Mai 2003
Von Paul Frandano - Veröffentlicht auf
The title of a non-fiction book should be a contract: here, the terms of Ross King's deal are, "I will tell you all you ever wanted to know about the great dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, and, as specified in the subtitle, I will leave you feeling you know how Brunelleschi 'reinvented architecture.'"
I enjoyed this book immensely, but King delivered on neither clause. I found myself puzzling over his technical explanations, rummaging through my library for a superior cutaway of the dome to better visualize his wordy exegesis. Oddly, each of the three well-known books I turned to - Murray's Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, Kostof's History of Architecture, and Hartt's History of Italian Renaissance Art - had precisely the same superb cutaway of the dome within a dome, showing Brunelleschi's Gothic vaulting underneath the classically inspired outer dome. "Mirabile dictu, so that's it!" This is only one of many instances where King created confusion where he might have parted the technical mists, with clearer text or with a better mating of text to illustration.
A corollary to this concern: for a book that has a fair number of illustrations, I found these, for the most part, woefully chosen. I appreciated the reproductions of period etchings and drawings, but these should have been supplemented with additional helps for the text. And at the very close, as a veritable punchline to the short book, King provides one small photograph of the dome in middle distance - no angles, no details, no close-up of the lantern, no full-page, no color. For readers who have neither been to Florence and seen the magnificent Santa Maria del Fiore in its urban context nor seen many illustrations or aspects of the dome, these are galling omissions.
As for the second term of the contract, King simply walks away from the subtitle's claim. Brunelleschi did indeed reinvent architecture, but not with the magnificent engineering feat of spanning the transept of Santa Maria del Fiore. On page 45, King discusses several commissions Brunelleschi won during the period in which he worked on the dome. Two of these, the Oespedale degli Innocenti and the Basilica of Santo Spiritu, literally did reinvent architecture. By investing these structures with rounded arches, classical columns, domal vaults, and classically derived ornamentation and proportions, Brunelleschi recovered for the Renaissance - before others could beat him to it - the architectural accomplishments of classical Rome. In an interesting chapter on Brunelleschi and Donatello's Roman adventure, King provides necessary background for understanding the Florentine achievement.
What happened? Here's my theory: King, a fledgling historian but seasoned novelist, might have submitted a longer draft to his publisher, who may have responded, "you've got two stories here. One is really interesting, has a strong narrative line, tension, characters, villains, obstacles - a brilliant story. Tell the tale of il duomo! And lose that BOOORRRRing stuff about the Foundling Hospital and the other churches." And maybe, just maybe, the dutiful novelist cut his manuscript to the lively story before us. That said, the publisher liked the title, or perhaps even composed it to amplify the puzzling phrase "Brunelleschi's Dome" to novitiates, promising the biggest of the big pictures on the cheap - in well under two hunded profusely illustrated pages.
A strong indictment. But I did indeed like this book a great deal and recommend it without difficulty - with the above qualifications. As I was reading it - actually, I went back and forth between the book itself and the Books on Tape edition, narrated much much too quickly by Richard Matthews, a chipper Brit - it struck me as exemplary "popular history": absolutely compelling as a story, vividly bringing to life Brunelleschi, aspects of his times, his rivals (particularly Lorenzo Ghiberti and his allies), throwing in everything but the kitchen sink - a little bit on war, military engineering, goldsmiths, political skullduggery (actually, King is weak here but provides useful dabs of color: Florence was a boiling pot) - with occasional patches of humor. In the end, this is a sequence of delightfully strung-together anecdotes woven though a book more about engineering - statics, stresses, and lifting machines -than about architecture and design. Filippo may have reinvented site management and construction techniques as well, but that's not the claim of the title, and it's not nearly as sexy as the universal "reinvention of an art form." If you're really interested in the topic, you'll have to look elsewhere to resolve the questions that still go begging once you've finished this brisk, enjoyable romp through 15th Century Florence.
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Assumes no prior knowledge of Renaissance times 28. April 2001
Von Midwest Book Review - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The focus of Brunelleschi's Dome is on Renaissance genius Brunelleschi, whose 1400 design revolutionized architecture, tells of a madman determined to achieve his controversial plan. Chapters paint a lively portrait of the man, his times, and the architectural design which would change the world. Leisure readers will find Brunelleschi's Dome as inviting as students of architecture, with a lively tone to the presentation which assumes no prior knowledge of either Renaissance times or architectural history.
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