Bramante and Aesthetics of High Renaissance
Donato di Pascuccio d’Antonio Bramante was a famous Italian architect. He was responsible for the introduction of the Early Renaissance style to Milan. He also introduced the High Renaissance style in Rome, which was also, where he created his most famous design, the St. Peter’s Basilica. Bramante had both painting and Architectural skills he worked alongside many Italian painters who concentrated in the Mantegna’s painting. Bramante’s architecture both in the Early and High renaissance periods was important since it based and addressed human values of the period. Bramante is renowned for several works including one that depicted the humanistic values, which was, the Tempietto. This architectural masterpiece was located on the Janiculum hill that overlooked the Vatican. It was built in 1510 in the church San Pietro in Montorio (Kleiner, 2008).
The statue’s name was given to it due to its resemblance to an ancient temple. It is believed that it is located in the actual place where Saint Peter’s crucifixion took place. This therefore made the statue a commemorative structure for a martyr. Due to the many transformations of the Renaissance and Baroque periods in Rome and several others that were to follow, little attention is now being paid to the work of art. It is almost the size of a sculpture and is mostly termed as one due to its little architectonic reference and use. The creation had a vast absorption of most of Brunelleschi’s style and it had a perfect proportion. The building was designed with Tuscan columns and a Doric entablature that had a similar design to the ancient Theater of Marcellus. The architectural masterpiece also had a dome that completed its overall shape and structure. It is believed that Bramante had initially planned to set the Tempietto in a colonnaded courtyard, a plan that never happened.
One of the vas differences between the styles of architecture of the Early and High Renaissance periods was the Early Renaissance period’s emphasis on putting details on flat wall surfaces while the High Renaissance period concentrated on sculptural handling of architectural masses. The Tempietto was actually the starting point for the High Renaissance period since Bramante was believed to have been the first person to revive beauty in architecture. Due to this, Julius II noted Bramante as the architect who would build a replacement for the Constantinian Basilician church. Most of the architectural influence of Bramante came from Francesco di Giorgio. His first interest in architecture was displayed in his first painting of the Palazzo del Podesta Bergamo, which was done in 1477. This work also displayed Bramante’s interest in perspective illusion. However, several other paintings displayed formative influence on his architecture (Encyclopedia of Art, n.d.).
His High Renaissance style is also reflected in his work on the S.Maria presso S.Satiro, which was built from 1482 to 1486. This church had been previously done by Alberti Mantuan. In his work on the church, he expanded it from a simple oratory to a fully formed Latin Cross Basilica with all unique features of a basilica like the aisles and the nave. However, the restrictions offered by the site of the building forced Bramante to reduce the choir space to a trompe-l’oeil scenery. He used the perspective skills he had gathered while he was painting. The nave of the church, its enormous arch and pier system and the barrel vault, which was illusion-based coffered, had a lot to do with the S.Andrea, Alberti’s creation. The church clearly used High Renaissance style in construction and who better to do it than the inventor of the style, Bramante.
Bramante was also responsible for the enormous family mausoleum that was commissioned to him by Lodovico Sforza. The creation was done at S.Maria delle Grazie in 1493. The building had a lot of resemblance to the Sacristy that was done by Brunellaschi. The resemblance came on the apses, which were done in semicircular shapes on three sides just like the Brunelleschi ones. The building also contained unique styles of Bramante like the lack of clutter and the huge spaces that were left. Other works that Bramante was responsible for during the High Renaissance era were like the S.Maria della Pace. This cloister was ordered by Alexander VI. The cloister was better designed that any other of his previous cloisters like the S.Ambrogio and it retained the characteristics of Urbino.
The building that was believed to have been the first to employ the order of the Doric correctly, was the Palazzo Caprini also known as the House of Raphael. The building was inspired by the architectural drawings of Francesco di Giorgio and the Antiquity temples that were encircled by columns. The building is believed to have dated before 1505 and it was built in the main street that leads to the Vatican. The building also acted as a perfect model for the miniature palaces that were required by the expanding papal governments. The designs included the sequences of rusticated floors with built in shops and classical orders that have influenced building up to today. The innovation of the use of stucco-covered bricks was also introduced in the High Renaissance period (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1995).
Another famous and classic work done by Bramante was the renewal of Rome that was commissioned by Pope Julius II. The process began at the Vatican and involved the connection of the villa Belvedere with the palace. The connection was done using a series of courtyards that ascended and were flanked by corridors that were arcaded. A vista that was highly structural cascaded through fountains and ramps from the pope’s apartments to the exedra that was on a high platform. Its axial resembled the Palestrina Complex and the building had symbolic similarities with the designs of Roman theatres and villas like the Cortile del Belvedere. Bramante was an architectural genius and the joint enthusiasm that he and Julius II had catapulted Bramante to the architectural mastery that he had.
Kleiner, F. S. (2008). Gardner‘s Art through the Ages: A Global History. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Encyclopedia of Art (n.d.). Donato Bramante. Retrieved from
Encyclopedia Britannica (1995). Bramante, Donato. Retrieved from http://www.uv.es/EBRIT/micro/micro_83_67.html