CdM, presunto autoritratto di leon battista alberti, white ground. Leon La Renaissance de l’architecture : De Brunelleschi à Palladio PDF Alberti was born in 1404 in Genoa.
His mother is not known, and his father was a wealthy Florentine who had been exiled from his own city, allowed to return in 1428. Alberti was sent to boarding school in Padua, then studied Law at Bologna. Alberti was gifted in many ways. He was tall, strong and a fine athlete who could ride the wildest horse and jump over a man’s head. He distinguished himself as a writer while he was still a child at school, and by the age of twenty had written a play which was successfully passed off as a genuine piece of Classical literature.
In 1438 he began to focus more on architecture and was encouraged by the Marchese Leonello d’Este of Ferrara, for whom he built a small triumphal arch to support an equestrian statue of Leonello’s father. His first major architectural commission was in 1446 for the facade of the Rucellai Palace in Florence. Alberti was employed to design two churches in Mantua, San Sebastiano, which was never completed, and for which Alberti’s intention can only be speculated, and the Basilica of Sant’Andrea. As an artist, Alberti distinguished himself from the ordinary craftsman, educated in workshops. He was a humanist, and part of the rapidly expanding entourage of intellectuals and artisans supported by the courts of the princes and lords of the time.
Alberti, as a member of noble family and as part of the Roman curia, had special status. Among Alberti’s smaller studies, pioneering in their field, were a treatise in cryptography, De componendis cifris, and the first Italian grammar. Alberti, having taken holy orders, remained unmarried all his life. Vasari describes him as « an admirable citizen, a man of culture. Alberti regarded mathematics as the common ground of art and the sciences.
I will take first from the mathematicians those things with which my subject is concerned. Alberti was well-versed in the sciences of his age. The book is bilingual, with the Italian version being printed on the left and the English version printed on the right. In both Della pittura and De statua, Alberti stressed that « all steps of learning should be sought from nature.
The ultimate aim of an artist is to imitate nature. In Rome, Alberti had plenty of time to study its ancient sites, ruins, and objects. Alberti wrote I Libri della famiglia—which discussed education, marriage, household management, and money—in the Tuscan dialect. The work was not printed until 1843. Like Erasmus decades later, Alberti stressed the need for a reform in education. He noted that « the care of very young children is women’s work, for nurses or the mother, » and that at the earliest possible age children should be taught the alphabet.
The unfinished and altered facade of San Sebastiano has promoted much speculation as to Alberti’s intentions. Alberti did not concern himself with the practicalities of building, and very few of his major works were brought to completion. Some studies propose that the Villa Medici in Fiesole might owe its design to Alberti, not to Michelozzo, and that it then became the prototype of the Renaissance villa. The facade, with its dynamic play of forms, was left incomplete.
The design overlays a grid of shallow pilasters and cornices in the Classical manner onto rusticated masonry, and is surmounted by a heavy cornice. Alberti is considered to have been the consultant for the design of the Piazza Pio II, Pienza. The village, previously called Corsignano, was redesigned beginning around 1459. It was the birthplace of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, Pope Pius II, in whose employ Alberti served. The piazza is a trapezoid shape defined by four buildings, with a focus on Pienza Cathedral and passages on either side opening onto a landscape view.
The principal residence, Palazzo Piccolomini, is on the west side. It has three stories, articulated by pilasters and entablature courses, with a twin-lighted cross window set within each bay. The Basilica of Sant’Andrea, Mantua was begun in 1471, the year before Alberti’s death. In On Painting, Alberti uses the expression « We Painters », but as a painter, or sculptor, he was a dilettante. In painting Alberti achieved nothing of any great importance or beauty, » wrote Vasari. The very few paintings of his that are extant are far from perfect, but this is not surprising since he devoted himself more to his studies than to draughtsmanship. Alberti is said to be in Mantegna’s great frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi, the older man dressed in dark red clothes, who whispers in the ear of Ludovico Gonzaga, the ruler of Mantua.