Leon Battista Alberti, architect and theoretician

Leon Battista Alberti, architect and theoretician
Leon Battista Alberti, architect and theoretician

Sometimes the great ensemble ofRenaissance architectureis summed up in the figure ofFilippo Brunelleschi, and especially the great work of he the dome of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers in Florence. However, during the Renaissance countless works of great interest were built, and even Brunelleschi himself has other masterpieces such as the Hospital of the Innocents or the Pazzi Chapel.


Alberti sculpture at the Uffizi

But in addition to this architect, it is also undeniable that there was another who was a tremendous innovator of this artistic discipline. We are talking about Leon Battista Alberti (1404 – 1472). Although unfortunately for his passing to posterity, the truth is that he did not do his great works in a city likeFlorence, as happens with the production of Brunelleschi. And it is that the great creations of Alberti are more scattered like the church of San Andrés in Mantua or the Temple of Malatesta in Rimini.

However, Alberti's creativity went beyond the works he executed. Above all, he was a very well-connected character, both with the upper echelons and with other artists, and from all this he extracted his experiences and knew how to turn them into various theoretical works. And as a typical character of the Renaissance that he was, in those theories he not only dedicated himself to talking about architecture, the art that he, in principle, knew best.He also devoted many pages to other disciplines.

For example, he wroteDe pictura. In which from his title we can already imagine that he reflects on painting, but he also does a lot about literature, and in general about the intellectual role that the arts play in society.

Another of his writings wasDe Statua. A more philosophical than practical work on sculpture, and which was really very influential on creators of a later generation, as is the case of Miguel Ángel.

And of course he also wrote his own architecture manual, De re aedificatoria. A corpus in which he brings together all his experiences in this field and his reflections on this art. A book in which their extensive knowledge of classical architecture is manifested, and especially of the treatises Vitruvius written in the imperial era and which they also knew other Renaissance artists.

In fact, this sequence in the theme of his works runs parallel to his own experience, as he came to architecture after going through letters, visual arts and theory. That is why his architecture is the result of all that work, and with it he manages to demonstrate all his theories.

And above all he was an integrator of all the arts and crafts, since another of his merits was to know in depth all the trades that intervened in the construction process. It follows from all this that few buildings of the Renaissance and of history are as harmonious as those ofAlberti.

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