The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance: How Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World, Paul Robert Walker

I am a huge fan of the Renaissance. Granted, not enough to go to a Renaissance faire. Regardless, I have read a few books in the last year relating to this time period. Irregardless, this was not the best, but still interesting. It has been speculated by some that the Renaissance officially started when Brunelleschi created the famous cupola in Florence, Italy. The largest of its kind in the entire world at the time (and still the largest brick dome in the world), the decision to cease the gothic architectural and open the competition to other means of making the cupola would thrust the Renaissance into full motion. When Brunelleschi looked to the domes of Rome as inspiration for his dome, it would “spark” the Renaissance.

But there is more to the story than this. In fact, what brought Brunelleschi to this point was a competition years earlier against a rival who would be a thorn in his side for decades: Ghiberti.

In a competition to make the baptistry doors of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower), both Ghiberti and Brunelleschi entered into the famous duel. Ghiberti submitted his version of the doors first. Several months later, Brunelleschi provided an even more beautiful rendition of what the doors could be. Since most of the men on the panel had already decided on Ghiberti’s panels, going back on their word would be in bad taste. Therefore, Ghiberti’s panel were selected to be cast into bronze and put on the Cathedral.

This would motivate Brunelleschi and be one of the main reasons why he had to outdo Ghiberti. In the end, Brunelleschi got the last laugh; the dome is much more picturesque than the door.

Overall, this book was alright. It was difficult to follow some of the story with the names, dates, and places in audiobook form. 3/5.

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