decorations and delicate turrets were to rise like those of Matass Santa Croce

Decorations and delicate turrets were to rise like

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decorations and delicate turrets were to rise like those of Matas’s Santa Croce facade.The patterns of green, white, and pink marble were derived from the pre-existing exteriors and intensified with more sculptural figures and highly detailed carving.An enormous 209 the challenge of tradition, 1750–1900
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presentation drawing was made to reinvigorate public subscription, but it had the adverse effect of reigniting public debate.Aversion to the crowning gables grew so intense that the works were stopped. This would not have been the first time the cathedral’s builders balked before public opinion. Michelangelo’s comment that the loggia around the base of Brunelleschi’s cupola looked like a cricket’s cage was enough to halt that project altogether. De Fabris compromised by working up a flatter “basilican” roofline. Once construction reached the balustrade, they put up plaster mock-ups of both alternatives to decide which of the different hats they preferred, as the architect blithely put it. De Fabris did not live to hear the public response, but would have been happy in either case. Luigi del Moro, specially trained by de Fabris, completed the facade in 1887 introducing still more changes. The powerful facade is thickly laden with figures and decorations and has a boldness that recalls Viollet-le-Duc’s incitement. It also conforms remarkably well to eyewitness accounts of Arnolfo’s original facade,“all of cut stone and sculpted figures.” The iconographical program of 138 figures included illustrious men (Arnolfo, Brunelleschi, Giotto, Dante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Galileo), and emblems of the founders and modern promoters of the Duomo itself (King Vittorio Emanuele II, Grand Duke Ferdinando, and eventually Pope Pius IX as well), and private donors down to the latest Torlonias. The official unveiling was on 12 May 1887, and came with hyperbolic acclaim—“Our art is returned to the glories of the golden age.” But Boito bitingly denounced the work and contemporary architecture in general as “a grab bag of many rich and of many impoverished minds.” Searing criticism has never abated, culminating in today’s snobbish Florentine conviction that if American tourists like it, it must be worthless.The jury was never very clear about what it wanted, leaving the work open to the vagaries of wavering public opinion.The cathedral is a preeminent public building, but the public, although many times evoked and appealed to, did not have a defined role in the decision-making process.The outcome of the crowning-element alternative was decided by a commission, not by plebiscite.The eminently public 210 the architecture of modern italy
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the challenge of tradition, 1750–1900 4.15 Emilio de Fabris, Santa Maria del Fiore facade, Florence, 1870–86
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nature of the Florentine Duomo facade design venture, compounded by its preeminent historical significance for the city and the nation, had set contemporary Italian architecture to its greatest challenge yet in establishing patterns of public architectural symbols.
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  • Spring '17
  • Archt. De Veyra

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