Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Bramante

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BRAMANTE, or Bramante Lazzari, one of the most celebrated architects of Italy, famous also as a painter, was born at Casteldurante, in Urbino, in July 1444. He showed a great taste for drawing, and was at an early age placed under a painter of some distinction, Fra Barto- lommeo, called Fra Carnavale. But though he afterwards gained some fame as a painter, his attention was soon absorbed by the sister art, architecture. He appears to have studied under Scirro Scirri, an architect in his native place, and perhaps under other masters. He then set out from Urbino, and proceeded through several of the towns of Lombardy, executing works of various magnitudes, and examining patiently all remains of ancient art. At last he reached Milan, drawn thither by the fame of the great Duomo, and remained there for several years. Informa tion as to this part of his life is singularly scanty, but he seems to have left Milan for Rome about 1500. He painted some frescoes at Rome, and devoted himself to the study of the ancient buildings, both in the city and in all the district as far south as Naples. About this time the Cardinal Caraffa, hearing of his studies in architecture, commissioned him to rebuild the cloister of the Convent della Pace. The celerity and skill with which Bramante accomplished his task gained for him the good offices of the cardinal, who introduced him to Pope Alexander VI. He began to be consulted on nearly all the great archi tectural operations in Rome, and executed for the Pope the palace of the Cancelleria, or chancery, which was much admired. But under Alexander s successor, Julius II., Bramante s talents began to obtain an adequate sphere of exercise. His first large work was to unite the straggling buildings of the palace and the Belvedere. This he accom plished by means of two long galleries or corridors enclosing a court. The design was only in part completed before the death of Julius and of the architect. So impatient was the Pope and so eager was Bramante, that the founda tions were not sufficiently well attended to ; great part of it had therefore soon to be rebuilt, and the whole is now GO much altered that it is hardly possible to decipher the original design.

Besides executing numerous smaller works at Rome and Bologna, among which is specially mentioned by older writers a round temple in the cloister of San Pietro-a- Montorio, Bramante was called upon by Pope Julius to take the first part in one of the greatest architectural enterprises ever attempted, the rebuilding of St Peter s. Bramante s designs were complete, and he pushed, on the work so fast, that before his death he had erected the four great piers and their arches, and completed the cornice and the vaulting in of this portion. He also vaulted in the principal chapel. After his death in 1514 his design was much altered by the architects engaged to carry on the work, and in particular by, Michel Angelo. Competent judges are strongly of opinion that Bramante s designs, if carried out, would have had a much greater effect than those which were finally adopted.

Bramante had a great influence in Italy. By his careful study of the ancient forms of art he became the real intro ducer of the so-called classical style. His own genius was bold and inventive, delighting in mass and breadth, but occasionally failing in the perfection of detail.