Bramante milanese e il tema dell’organismo cupolato
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In the last quarter of the fifteenth century, when Bramante arrived at Milan, the city was the major centre in Italy for the research of modern domed buildings. The challenge was to overcome the too strict Sagrestia Vecchia’s cubic type, incapable of clearly expressing the signum Crucis - the symbol of modern faith as opposed to the idolatrous pagan religion. The development of a modern Christian temple, cross-shaped and domed, had already began in the previous decades with Alberti (as an architect, not theorician) and Filarete’s Architettonico libro, for whom the cross was assumed as an iconic mark. In the 1480s, Leonardo, who in some sketches foreshadowed a revolutionary conception of the domed churches, both in their geometry or structure, enriched the researches in Milan. He did not design his compositions of spaces using two-dimensional walls and linear pilasters (as late-mediaeval architecture did), but taking off regular empty volumes from a solid structural body: so that the structure was reduced to a shapeless continuity of three-dimensional masonry. The use of a free combinatorial geometry, allowed Leonardo as well to shape pyramidal architectural compositions, both geometrically or structurally. Bramante felt the effects of the Milanese experimentations: his works, actually built or not (from the three domes of Santa Maria presso San Satiro to Santa Maria delle Grazie, through the Prevedari engraving and the Pavia’s cathedral), show his restless typological varietas; nonetheless, the master would reach his most mature achievements only at Rome. In Milan he remained in the field of a fertile eclecticism, confronting himself with all sort of local and foreign sources.
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