Medieval Studies and Archaeology

Elizabeth Bradford Smith

Building Santa Maria Novella

Materials, Tradition and Invention in Late Medieval Florence

L'ErmArte, 32
2022, 260 pp., 100 ill. col.
Hardback, 21,5 x 28,5 cm
ISBN: 9788891326096
ISSN: 2612-4718
Pre-order: this book will be shiped on 30 Novembre
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  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • Abstract

    Acknowledged as influential within the context of late medieval architecture in Italy, the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence has not attracted the substantive architectural study it deserves. The book re-envisions its building history, focusing on crucial stages in its creation: the original model commissioned in the 1270s, and the radical 14th-c. redesign of the nave. Analysis of previously unobserved features illuminates the creative process, enabling a firmer attribution of authorship and a new chronology for its groundbreaking vaulted nave.

    Keywords: medieval architecture, Florence, Dominicans, vaulting techniques

  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    Chapter One. Beginnings. The State of the Question

    1. The Dominicans Decide to Build a New Church in Florence
    2. State of the Question
    2.1 The Old Church: Santa Maria delle Vigne
    2.2 The New Church: The So-called "Transept Church"
    2.3 The New Church: The Nave

    Chapter Two: Planning for the New Church

    1. Preparations for Construction: Documemts and Sources
    2. Basic Features of the Original Design for SMN
    3. Potential Sources of the Original Design for Santa Maria Novella
    3.1 The Dominican Network
    3.2 Florence and its Surrounding Region
    3.3 Cistercian Church Design in Central Italy
    3.4 Potential Sources: A Brief Summary
    4. Architectural Models in the Late Middle Ages: A Brief Survey of Forms and Applications
    5. Aldobrandino Cavalcanti (1217-1279) and his Model for the New Church
    5.1 Cavalcanti and the Papal Court in Orvieto and Viterbo
    6. The Problem of Fra Sisto and Fra Ristoro
    7. Laying the Cornerstone of Santa Maria Novella

    Chapter Three. Collaboration with the Commune of Florence and the Early Years of Consruction at SMN

    1. Collaboration with the Commune of Florence: The New City Walls and the New Piazza of SMN
    2. Recruiting the Workforce
    3. Funding Construction: Contemporary Sources
    4. The Transept ,1279-1295
    4.1 Overview of Construction
    4.2 Duccio’s Rucellai Madonna (1285) in Relation to the Construction of the Transept
    4.3 The Corpus Domini Festival of 1295 and its Relevance to the Chronology of the Transept and Upper Nave
    5. The Upper Nave ca. 1295-1301
    6. The Exterior Envelope of the Churh 1279-1302
    6.1 The South and Est Perimeter alls and the Avelli
    6.2 The Cimitero Superiore
    6.3 The 1302 Portal: its Role in the Modelllum, within the Cimitero Superiore, and in the Redesign of the Lower Nave.

    Vasarian Excursus

    Chapter Four. The Nave Vaults and a New Design for the Ecclesia Laicorum:Tradition, Compromise and Innovation

    1 The disconnect between the model and the nave as we see it today
    2 Florentine building materials and methods: tradition and invention at SMN
    3. Methods of vault construction compared: the even-level-crown ribbed vault and the domical or Lombard vault
    3.1 The even-level-crown ribbed vault
    3.2 The Domical or Lombard Vault
    4. Vaulting the rectangular bays of the Upper Nave at Santa Maria Novella
    5. Redesigning the Lower Nave: C'est la voute qui commande
    5.1 The New Plan for the Lower Nave
    5.2 omnes illas testudines eregia arte confectas: The Vaults of the Lower Nave
    5.3 The Elevation of the Lower Nave: An Ingenious Solution
    6. Further Evidence for the Construction Sequence
    6.1 The Architectural Elements: the Bases and Capitals in the Nave
    6.2 The Mural Decoration: the Frescoes on the Aisle Walls and the Frescoes on the Transverse Arches

    7. Summary of the Argument and Paths Forward

    Chapter 5. Redesigning and Completing the Nave: Problems of Chronology and Agency

    1.Introduction: Overview of chapter
    1.1 1302-1317: Economic and Political Upheavals in Florence, and the Consequent Pause in Construction
    1.2 1317: Resumption of Work on the Nave
    2. Lay Brother Masons and Craftsmen at Santa Maria Novella; The Activity of Giovanni da Campi and Fra Jacopo Talenti
    2.1 The Dominican Tradition of lay-brother craftsmen
    2.2 Fra Giovanni da Campi
    2.3 Fra Jacopo Talenti
    3.The Operarius or Supervisor of Works, Fra Jacopo Passavanti
    4. A New Proposal for the Chronology and Agency of the Lower Nave and its Vaults

    6. Conclusion

    Appendix A: Documents regarding Santa Maria Novella, 1221-late 15th century
    Borghigiani Appendix: Selected excerpts from archival transcriptions made in the mid-eighteenth century by Vincdenzo
    Borghigiani, O.P. relevant to the construction history of the church and convent of SMN
    Bibliography