This eminent architect was one of those illustrious men, who, having conceived and matured a grand design, proceed, cool, calm, and indefatigable, to put it in execution, undismayed by obstacles that seem insuperable, by poverty, want, and what is worse, the jeers of men whose capacities are too limited to comprehend their sublime conceptions. The world is apt to term such men enthusiasts, madmen, or fools, till their glorious achievements stamp them almost divinely inspired.

Brunelleschi was nobly descended on his mother's side, she being a member of the Spini family, which, according to Bottari, became extinct towards the middle of the last century. His ancestors on his father's side were also learned and distinguished men—his father was a notary, his grandfather "a very learned man," and his great-grandfather "a famous physician in those times." Filippo's father, though poor, educated him for the legal or medical profession; but such was his passion for art and mechanics, that his father, greatly against his will, was compelled to allow him to follow the bent of his genius: he accordingly placed him, at a proper age, in the Guild of the Goldsmiths, that he might acquire the art of design. Filippo soon became a proficient in the setting of precious stones, which he did much better than any old artists in the vocation. He also wrought in niello, and executed several figures which were highly commended, particularly two figures of Prophets, for an altar in the Cathedral of Pistoja. Filippo next turned his attention to sculpture, and executed works in basso-relievo, which showed an extraordinary genius. Subsequently, having made the acquaintance of several learned men, he began to turn his attention to the computation of the divisions of time, the adjustment of weights, the movement of wheels, etc. He next bent his thoughts to the study of perspective, to which, before his time, so little attention was paid by artists, that the figures often appeared to be slipping off the canvas, and the buildings had not a true point of view. He was one of the first who revived the Greek practice of rendering the precepts of geometry subservient to the painter; for this purpose, he studied with the famous geometrician Toscanelli, who was also the instructor, friend, and counsellor of Columbus. Filippo pursued his investigations until he brought perspective to great perfection; he was the first who discovered a perfectly correct method of taking the ground plan and sections of buildings, by means of intersecting lines—"a truly ingenious thing," says Vasari, "and of great utility to the arts of design." Filippo freely communicated his discoveries to his brother artists. He was imitated in mosaic by Benedetto da Macano, and in painting by Masaccio, who were his pupils. Vasari says Brunelleschi was a man of such exalted genius, that "we may truly declare him to have been given to us by Heaven, for the purpose of imparting a new spirit to architecture, which for hundreds of years had been lost; for the men of those times had badly expended great treasures in the erection of buildings without order, constructed in a most wretched manner, after deplorable designs, with fantastic inventions, labored graces, and worse decorations. But it then pleased Heaven, the earth having been for so many years destitute of any distinguished mind and divine genius, that Filippo Brunelleschi should leave to the world, the most noble, vast, and beautiful edifice that had ever been constructed in modern times, or even in those of the ancients; giving proof that the talent of the Tuscan artists, although lost for a time, was not extinguished. He was, moreover, adorned by the most excellent qualities, among which was that of kindliness, insomuch that there never was a man of more benign and amicable disposition; in judgment he was calm and dispassionate, and laid aside all thought of his own interest and even that of his friends, whenever he perceived the merits and talents of others to demand that he should do so. He knew himself, instructed many from the stores of his genius, and was ever ready to succor his neighbor in all his necessities; he declared himself the confirmed enemy of all vice, and the friend of those who labored in the cause of virtue. Never did he spend his moments vainly, but, although constantly occupied in his own works, in assisting those of others, or administering to their necessities, he had yet always time to bestow on his friends, for whom his aid was ever ready."

In the meantime, Brunelleschi had studied architecture, and made such progress that he had already conceived two grand projects—the one was the revival of the good manner of ancient architecture, which was then extinct, and the other was to discover a method for constructing the cupola of the church of Santa Maria del Fiore, in Florence, the difficulties of which were so great that, after the death of Arnolfo di Lapi, no architect had been found of sufficient courage and capacity to attempt the vaulting of that cupola.[1] If he could accomplish one or both of these designs, he believed that he would not only immortalize his own name, but confer a lasting benefit on mankind. Filippo, having resolved to devote himself entirely to architecture in future, set out for Rome in company with his friend Donatello, without imparting his purpose to any one. Here his mind became so absorbed that he labored incessantly, scarcely allowing himself the rest which nature required. He examined, measured, and made careful drawings of all the edifices, ruins, arches, and vaults of antiquity; to these he devoted perpetual study, and if by chance he found fragments of capitals, columns, cornices, or basements of buildings, partly buried in the earth, he set laborers at work to lay them open to view. One day, Filippo and Donatello found an earthen vase full of ancient coins, which caused a report to be spread about Rome that the artists were treasure-seekers, and this name they often heard, as they passed along the streets, negligently clothed, the people believing them to be men who studied geomancy, for the discovery of treasures. Donatello soon returned to Florence, but Filippo pursued his studies with unremitting diligence. Having exhausted his means, although he lived in the most frugal manner, he contrived to supply his wants, says Milizia, by pawning his jewels, but Vasari with greater probability, by setting precious stones for the goldsmiths, who were his friends. "Nor did he rest," says Vasari, "until he had drawn every description of fabric—temples, round, square, or octagon; basilicas, aqueducts, baths, arches, the Colosseum, amphitheatres, and every church built of bricks, of which he examined all the modes of binding and clamping, as well as the turning of the vaults and arches; he took note, likewise, of all the methods used for uniting the stones, as well as of the means used for securing the equilibrium and close conjunction of all the parts; and having found that in all the larger stones there was a hole, formed exactly in the centre of each on the under side, he discovered that this was for the insertion of the iron instrument with which the stones are drawn up, and which is called by us the mason's clamps (la ulivella), an invention, the use of which he restored, and ever afterwards put in practice. The different orders were next divided by his cares, each order, the Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian being placed apart; and such was the effect of his zeal in that study, that he became capable of entirely reconstructing the city in his imagination, and of beholding Rome as she had been before she was ruined. But in the year 1407 the air of the place caused Filippo some slight indisposition, when he was advised by his friends to try change of air. He consequently returned to Florence, where many buildings had suffered by his absence, and for these he made many drawings and gave numerous counsels on his return.

"In the same year an assemblage of architects and engineers was gathered in Florence, by the Superintendents of the works of Santa Maria del Fiore, and by the Syndics of the Guild of wool-workers, to consult on the means by which the cupola might be raised. Among these appeared Filippo, who gave it as his opinion that the edifice above the roof must be constructed, not after the design of Arnolfo, but that a frieze, fifteen braccia high, must be erected, with a large window in each of its sides: since not only would this take the weight off the piers of the tribune, but would also permit the cupola itself to be more easily raised."

The obstacles appeared so insuperable to the Superintendents and the Syndics, that they delayed the execution of the cupola for several years. In the meantime, Filippo secretly made models and designs for his cupola, which perpetually occupied his thoughts. He boldly asserted that the project was not only practicable, but that it could be done with much less difficulty and at less expense than was believed. At length, his boldness, genius, and powerful arguments, brought many of the citizens to his opinion, though he refused to show his models, because he knew the powerful opposition and influences he would have to encounter, and the almost certain loss of the honor of building the cupola, which he coveted above everything else. Vasari thus continues his admirable history: "But one morning the fancy took him, hearing that there was some talk of providing engineers for the construction of the cupola, of returning to Rome, thinking that he would have more reputation and be more sought for from abroad, than if he remained in Florence. When Filippo had returned to Rome accordingly, the acuteness of his genius and his readiness of resource were taken into consideration, when it was remembered that in his discourses he had showed a confidence and courage that had not been found in any of the other architects, who stood confounded, together with the builders, having lost all power of proceeding; for they were convinced that no method of constructing the cupola would ever be found, nor any beams that would make a scaffold strong enough to support the framework and weight of so vast an edifice. The Superintendents were therefore resolved to have an end of the matter, and wrote to Filippo in Rome, entreating him to repair to Florence, when he, who desired nothing better, returned very readily. The wardens of Santa Maria del Fiore and the syndics of the Guild of Woolworkers, having assembled on his arrival, set before him all the difficulties, from the greatest to the smallest, which had been made by the masters, who were present, together with himself, at the audience: whereupon Filippo replied in these words—'Gentlemen Superintendents, there is no doubt that great undertakings always present difficulties in their execution; and if none ever did so before, this of yours does it to an extent of which you are not perhaps even yet fully aware, for I do not know that even the ancients ever raised so enormous a vault as this will be. I, who have many times reflected on the scaffoldings required, both within and without, and on the method to be pursued for working securely at this erection, have never been able to come to a decision; and I am confounded, no less by the breadth than the height of the edifice. Now, if the cupola could be arched in a circular form, we might pursue the method adopted by the Romans in erecting the Pantheon of Rome; that is, the Rotunda. But here we must follow the eight sides of the building, dove-tailing, and, so to speak, enchaining the stones, which will be a very difficult thing. Yet, remembering that this is a temple consecrated to God and the Virgin, I confidently trust, that for a work executed to their honor, they will not fail to infuse knowledge where it is now wanting, and will bestow strength, wisdom, and genius on him who shall be the author of such a project. But how can I help you in the matter, seeing that the work is not mine? I tell you plainly, that if it belonged to me, my courage and power would beyond all doubt suffice to discover means whereby the work might be effected without so many difficulties; but as yet I have not reflected on the matter to any extent, and you would have me tell you by what method it is to be accomplished. But even if your worships should determine that the cupola shall be raised, you will be compelled not only to make trial of me, who do not consider myself capable of being the sole adviser in so important a matter, but also to expend money, and to command that within a year, and on a fixed day, many architects shall assemble in Florence; not Tuscans and Italians only, but Germans, French, and of every other nation: to them it is that such an undertaking should be proposed, to the end that having discussed the matter and decided among so many masters, the work may be commenced and entrusted to him who shall give the best evidence of capacity, or shall display the best method and judgment for the execution of so great a charge. I am not able to offer you other counsel, or to propose a better arrangement than this.'

"The proposal and plan of Filippo pleased the Syndics and Wardens of the works, but they would have liked that he should meanwhile prepare a model, on which they might have decided. But he showed himself to have no such intention, and taking leave of them, declared that he was solicited by letters to return to Rome. The syndics then perceiving that their request and those of the wardens did not suffice to detain him, caused several of his friends to entreat his stay; but Filippo not yielding to these prayers, the wardens, one morning, ordered him a present of money; this was on the 26th of May, 1417, and the sum is to be seen among the expenses of Filippo, in the books of the works. All this was done to render him favorable to their wishes; but, firm to his resolution, he departed nevertheless from Florence and returned to Rome, where he continued the unremitting study of the same subject, making various arrangements and preparing himself for the completion of that work, being convinced, as was the truth, that no other than himself could conduct such an undertaking to its conclusion. Nor had Filippo advised the syndics to call new architects for any other reason, than was furnished by his desire that those masters should be the witnesses of his own superior genius: he by no means expected that they could or would receive the commission for vaulting that tribune, or would undertake the charge, which he believed to be altogether too difficult for them. Much time was meanwhile consumed, before the architects, whom the syndics had caused to be summoned from afar, could arrive from their different countries. Orders had been given to the Florentine merchants resident in France, Germany, England, and Spain, who were authorized to spend large sums of money for the purpose of sending them, and were commanded to obtain from the sovereigns of each realm the most experienced and distinguished masters of the respective countries.

"In the year 1420, all these foreign masters were at length assembled in Florence, with those of Tuscany, and all the best Florentine artists in design. Filippo likewise then returned from Rome. They all assembled, therefore, in the hall of the wardens of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Syndics and Superintendents, together with a select number of the most capable and ingenious citizens being present, to the end that having heard the opinion of each on the subject, they might at length decide on the method to be adopted for vaulting the tribune. Being called into the audience, the opinions of all were heard one after another, and each architect declared the method which he had thought of adopting. And a fine thing it was to hear the strange and various notions then propounded on that matter: for one said that columns must be raised from the ground up, and that on these they must turn the arches, whereon the woodwork for supporting the weight must rest. Others affirmed that the vault should be turned in cysteolite or sponge-stone (spugna), thereby to diminish the weight; and several of the masters agreed in the opinion that a column must be erected in the centre, and the cupola raised in the form of a pavilion, like that of San Giovanni in Florence. Nay, there were not wanting those who maintained that it would be a good plan to fill the space with earth, among which small coins (quatrini) should be mingled, that when the cupola should be raised, they might then give permission that whoever should desire the soil might go and fetch it, when the people would immediately carry it away without expense. Filippo alone declared that the cupola might be erected without so great a mass of woodwork, without a column in the centre, and without the mound of earth; at a much lighter expense than would be caused by so many arches, and very easily, without any framework whatever.

"Hearing this, the syndics, who were listening in the expectation of hearing some fine method, felt convinced that Filippo had talked like a mere simpleton, as did the superintendents, and all the other citizens; they derided him therefore, laughing at him, and turning away; they bade him discourse of something else, for that this was the talk of a fool or madman, as he was. Therefore Filippo, thinking he had cause of offence, replied, 'But consider, gentlemen, that it is not possible to raise the cupola in any other manner than this of mine, and although you laugh at me, yet you will be obliged to admit (if you do not mean to be obstinate), that it neither must nor can be done in any other manner; and if it be erected after the method that I propose, it must be turned in the manner of the pointed arch, and must be double—the one vaulting within, the other without, in such sort that a passage should be formed between the two. At the angles of the eight walls, the building must be strengthened by the dove-tailing of the stones, and in like manner the walls themselves must be girt around by strong beams of oak. We must also provide for the lights, the staircases, and the conduits by which the rain-water may be carried off. And none of you have remembered that we must prepare supports within, for the execution of the mosaics, with many other difficult arrangements; but I, who see the cupola raised, I have reflected on all these things, and I know that there is no other mode of accomplishing them, than that of which I have spoken.' Becoming heated as he proceeded, the more Filippo sought to make his views clear to his hearers, that they might comprehend and agree with him, the more he awakened their doubts, and the less they confided in him, so that, instead of giving him their faith, they held him to be a fool and a babbler. Whereupon, being more than once dismissed, and finally refusing to go, they caused him to be carried forcibly from the audience by the servants of the place, considering him to be altogether mad. This contemptuous treatment caused Filippo at a later period to say, that he dared not at that time pass through any part of the city, lest some one should say, 'See, where goes that fool!' The syndics and others forming the assembly remained confounded, first, by the difficult methods proposed by the other masters, and next by that of Filippo, which appeared to them stark nonsense. He appeared to them to render the enterprise impossible by his two propositions—first, by that of making the cupola double, whereby the great weight to be sustained would be rendered altogether unmanageable, and next by the proposal of building without a framework. Filippo, on the other hand, who had spent so many years in close study to prepare himself for this work, knew not to what course to betake himself, and was many times on the point of leaving Florence. Still, if he desired to conquer, it was necessary to arm himself with patience, and he had seen enough to know that the heads of the city seldom remained long fixed to one resolution. He might easily have shown them a small model which he had secretly made, but he would not do so, knowing the imperfect intelligence of the syndics, the envy of the artists, and the instability of the citizens, who favored now one and now another, as each chanced to please them. And I do not wonder at this, because every one in Florence professes to know as much of these matters, as do the most experienced masters, although there are very few who really understand them; a truth which we may be permitted to affirm without offence to those who are well informed on the subject. What Filippo therefore could not effect before the tribunal, he began to attempt with individuals, and talking apart now with a syndic, now with a warden, and again with different citizens, showing moreover certain parts of his design; he thus brought them at length to resolve on confiding the conduct of this work, either to him or to one of the foreign architects. Hereupon, the syndics, the wardens, and the citizens, selected to be judges in the matter, having regained courage, gathered together once again, and the architects disputed respecting the matter before them; but all were put down and vanquished on sufficient grounds by Filippo, and here it is said that the dispute of the egg arose, in the manner following. The other architects desired that Filippo should explain his purpose minutely, and show his model, as they had shown theirs. This he would not do, but proposed to all the masters, foreigners and compatriots, that he who could make an egg stand upright on a piece of smooth marble, should be appointed to build the cupola, since in doing that, his genius would be made manifest. They took an egg accordingly, and all those masters did their best to make it stand upright, but none discovered the method of doing so. Wherefore, Filippo, being told that he might make it stand himself, took it daintily into his hand, gave the end of it a blow on the plane of the marble, and made it stand upright.[2] Beholding this, the artists loudly protested, exclaiming that they could all have done the same; but Filippo replied, laughing, that they might also know how to construct the cupola, if they had seen the model and design. It was thus at length resolved that Filippo should receive the charge of conducting the work, but was told that he must furnish the syndics and wardens with more exact information.

"He returned, therefore, to his house, and stated his whole purpose on a sheet of paper, as clearly as he could possibly express it, when it was given to the tribunal in the following terms:—'The difficulties of this erection being well considered, magnificent signors and wardens, I find that it cannot by any means be constructed in a perfect circle, since the extent of the upper part, where the lantern has to be placed, would be so vast, that when a weight was laid thereon, it would soon give way. Now it appears to me that those architects who do not aim at giving perpetual duration to their fabrics, cannot have any regard for the durability of the memorial, nor do they even know what they are doing. I have therefore determined to turn the inner part of this vault in angles, according to the form of the walls, adopting the proportions and manner of the pointed arch, this being a form which displays a rapid tendency to ascend, and when loaded with the lantern, each part will help to give stability to the other. The thickness of the vault at the base must be three braccia and three-quarters; it must then rise in the form of a pyramid, decreasing from without up to the point where it closes, and where the lantern has to be placed, and at this junction the thickness must be one braccia and a quarter. A second vault shall then be constructed outside the first, to preserve the latter from the rain, and this must be two braccia and a half thick at the base, also diminishing proportionally in the form of a pyramid, in such a manner that the parts shall have their junction at the commencement of the lantern, as did the other, and at the highest point it must have two-thirds of the thickness of the base. There must be a buttress at each angle, which will be eight in all, and between the angles, in the face of each wall, there shall be two, sixteen in all; and these sixteen buttresses on the inner and outer side of each wall must each have the breadth of four braccia at the base. These two vaults, built in the form of a pyramid, shall rise together in equal proportion to the height of the round window closed by the lantern. There will thus be constructed twenty-four buttresses with the said vaults built around, and six strong high arches of a hard stone (macigno), well clamped and bound with iron fastenings, which must be covered with tin, and over these stones shall be cramping irons, by which the vaults shall be bound to the buttresses. The masonry must be solid, and must leave no vacant space up to the height of five braccia and a quarter; the buttresses being then continued, the arches will be separated. The first and second courses from the base must be strengthened everywhere by long plates ofmacigno laid crosswise, in such sort that both vaults of the cupola shall rest on these stones. Throughout the whole height, at every ninth braccia there shall be small arches constructed in the vaults between the buttresses, with strong cramps of oak, whereby the buttresses by which the inner vault is supported will be bound and strengthened; these fastenings of oak shall then be covered with plates of iron, on account of the staircases. The buttresses are all to be built of macigno, or other hard stone, and the walls of the cupola are, in like manner, to be all of solid stone bound to the buttresses to the height of twenty-four braccia, and thence upward they shall be constructed of brick or of spongite (spugne), as shall be determined on by the masters who build it, they using that which they consider lightest. On the outside, a passage or gallery shall be made above the windows, which below shall form a terrace, with an open parapet or balustrade two braccia high, after the manner of those of the lower tribunes, and forming two galleries, one over the other, placed on a richly decorated cornice, the upper gallery being covered. The rain-water shall be carried off the cupola by means of a marble channel, one third of an ell broad, the water being discharged at an outlet to be constructed of hard stone (pietra forte), beneath the channel. Eight ribs of marble shall be formed on the angles of the external surface of the cupola, of such thickness as may be requisite; these shall rise to the height of one braccia above the cupola, with cornices projecting in the manner of a roof, two braccia broad, that the summit may be complete, and sufficiently furnished with eaves and channels on every side; and these must have the form of the pyramid, from their base, or point of junction, to their extremity. Thus the cupola shall be constructed after the method described above, and without framework, to the height of thirty braccia, and from that height upwards, it may be continued after such manner as shall be determined on by the masters who may have to build it, since practice teaches us by what methods to proceed.'

"When Filippo had written the above, he repaired in the morning to the tribunal, and gave his paper to the syndics and wardens, who took the whole of it into their consideration; and, although they were not able to understand it all, yet seeing the confidence of Filippo, and finding that the other architects gave no evidence of having better ground to proceed on,—he moreover showing a manifest security, by constantly repeating the same things in such a manner that he had all the appearance of having vaulted ten cupolas:—the Syndics, seeing all this, retired apart, and finally resolved to give him the work; they would have liked to see some example of the manner in which he meant to turn this vault without framework, but to all the rest they gave their approbation. And fortune was favorable to this desire: Bartolomeo Barbadori having determined to build a chapel in Santa Felicita, and having spoken concerning it with Filippo, the latter had commenced the work, and caused the chapel, which is on the right of the entrance, where is also the holy water vase (likewise by the hand of Filippo), to be vaulted without any framework. At the same time he constructed another, in like manner, for Stiatta Ridolfi, in the church of Santo Jacopo sopr' Arno; that, namely, beside the chapel of the High Altar; and these works obtained him more credit than was given to his words. The consuls and wardens feeling at length assured, by the writing he had given them, and by the works which they had seen, entrusted the cupola to his care, and he was made principal master of the works by a majority of votes. They would nevertheless not commission him to proceed beyond the height of twelve braccia, telling him that they desired to see how the work would succeed, but that if it proceeded as successfully as he expected, they would not fail to give him the appointment for the remainder. The sight of so much obstinacy and distrust in the syndics and wardens was so surprising to Filippo, that if he had not known himself to be the only person capable of conducting the work, he would not have laid a hand upon it; but desiring, as he did, to secure the glory of its completion, he accepted the terms, and pledged himself to conduct the undertaking perfectly to the end. The writing Filippo had given was copied into a book wherein the purveyor kept the accounts of the works in wood and marble, together with the obligation into which Filippo had entered as above said. An allowance was then made to him, conformably with what had at other times been given to other masters of the works.

"When the commission given to Filippo became known to the artists and citizens, some thought well of it, and others ill, as always is the case with a matter which calls forth the opinions of the populace, the thoughtless, and the envious. Whilst the preparation of materials for beginning to build was making, a party was formed among the artists and citizens; and these men proceeding to the syndics and wardens, declared that the matter had been concluded too hastily, and that such a work ought not to be executed according to the opinion of one man only; they added, that if the syndics and wardens had been destitute of distinguished men, instead of being furnished with such in abundance, they would have been excusable, but that what was now done was not likely to redound to the honor of the citizens, seeing, that if any accident should happen, they would incur blame, as persons who had conferred too great a charge on one man, without considering the losses and disgrace that might result to the public. All this considered, it would be well to give Filippo a colleague, who might restrain his impetuosity (furore).

"Lorenzo Ghiberti had at that time attained to high credit by the evidence of his genius, which he had given in the doors of San Giovanni; and that he was much beloved by certain persons who were very powerful in the government was now proved with sufficient clearness, since, perceiving the glory of Filippo to increase so greatly, they labored in such a manner with the syndics and wardens, under the pretext of care and anxiety for the building, that Ghiberti was united with Filippo in the work. The bitter vexation of Filippo, the despair into which he fell, when he heard what the wardens had done, may be understood by the fact that he was on the point of flying from Florence; and had it not been that Donato and Luca della Robbia comforted and encouraged him, he would have gone out of his senses. A truly wicked and cruel rage is that of those men, who, blinded by envy, endanger the honors and noble works of others in the base strife of ambition: it was not the fault of these men that Filippo did not break in pieces the models, set fire to the designs, and in one half hour destroy all the labors so long endured, and ruin the hopes of so many years. The wardens excused themselves at first to Filippo, encouraging him to proceed, reminding him that the inventor and author of so noble a fabric was still himself, and no other; but they, nevertheless, gave Lorenzo a stipend equal to that of Filippo. The work was then continued with but little pleasure on the part of Filippo, who knew that he must endure all the labors connected therewith, and would then have to divide the honor and fame equally with Lorenzo. Taking courage, nevertheless, from the thought that he should find a method of preventing the latter from remaining very long attached to that undertaking, he continued to proceed after the manner laid down in the writing given to the wardens. Meanwhile the thought occurred to the mind of Filippo of constructing a complete model, which, as yet, had never been done. This he commenced forthwith, causing the parts to be made by a certain Bartolomeo, a joiner, who dwelt near his studio. In this model (the measurements of which were in strict accordance with those of the building itself, the difference being of size only), all the difficult parts of the structure were shown as they were to be when completed; as, for example, staircases lighted and dark, with every other kind of light, with the buttresses and other inventions for giving strength to the building, the doors, and even a portion of the gallery. Lorenzo, having heard of this model, desired to see it, but Filippo refusing, he became angry, and made preparations for constructing a model of his own, that he might not appear to be receiving his salary for nothing, but that he also might seem to count for something in the matter. For these models Filippo received fifty lire and fifteen soldi, as we find by an order in the book of Migliore di Tommaso, under date of the 3d October, 1419, while Lorenzo was paid three hundred lire for the labor and cost of his model, a difference occasioned by the partiality and favor shown to him, rather than merited by any utility or benefit secured to the building by the model which he had constructed.

"This vexatious state of things continued beneath the eyes of Filippo until the year 1426,[3] the friends of Lorenzo calling him the inventor of the work, equally with Filippo, and this caused so violent a commotion in the mind of the latter, that he lived in the utmost disquietude. Various improvements and new inventions were, besides, presenting themselves to his thoughts, and he resolved to rid himself of his colleague at all hazards, knowing of how little use he was to the work. Filippo had already raised the walls of the cupola to the height of twelve braccia in both vaults, but the works, whether in wood or stone, that were to give strength to the fabric, had still to be executed, and as this was a matter of difficulty, he determined to speak with Lorenzo respecting it, that he might ascertain whether the latter had taken it into consideration. But Lorenzo was so far from having thought of this exigency, and so entirely unprepared for it, that he replied by declaring that he would refer that to Filippo as the inventor. The answer of Lorenzo pleased Filippo, who thought he here saw the means of removing his colleague from the works, and of making it manifest that he did not possess that degree of knowledge in the matter that was attributed to him by his friends, and implied in the favor which had placed him in the situation he held. All the builders were now engaged in the work, and waited only for directions, to commence the part above the twelve braccia, to raise the vaults, and render all secure. The closing in of the cupola towards the top having commenced, it was necessary to provide the scaffolding, that the masons and laborers might work without danger, seeing that the height was such as to make the most steady head turn giddy, and the firmest spirit shrink, merely to look down from it. The masons and other masters were therefore waiting in expectation of directions as to the manner in which the chains were to be applied, and the scaffoldings erected; but, finding there was nothing determined on either by Lorenzo or Filippo, there arose a murmur among the masons and other builders, at not seeing the work pursued with the solicitude previously shown; and as the workmen were poor persons who lived by the labor of their hands, and who now believed that neither one nor the other of the architects had courage enough to proceed further with the undertaking, they went about the building employing themselves as best they could in looking over and furbishing up all that had been already executed.

"But one morning, Filippo did not appear at the works: he tied up his head, went to bed complaining bitterly, and causing plates and towels to be heated with great haste and anxiety, pretending that he had an attack of pleurisy. The builders who stood waiting directions to proceed with their work, on hearing this, demanded orders of Lorenzo for what they were to do; but he replied that the arrangement of the work belonged to Filippo, and that they must wait for him. 'How?' said one of them, 'do you not know what his intentions are?' 'Yes,' replied Lorenzo, 'but I would not do anything without him.'" This he said by way of excusing himself; for as he had not seen the model of Filippo, and had never asked him what method he meant to pursue, that he might not appear ignorant, so he now felt completely out of his depth, being thus referred to his own judgment, and the more so as he knew that he was employed in that undertaking against the will of Filippo. The illness of the latter having already lasted more than two days, the purveyor of the works, with many of the master-builders, went to see him, and repeatedly asked him to tell them what they should do; but he constantly replied, 'You have Lorenzo, let him begin to do something for once.' Nor could they obtain from him any other reply. When this became known, it caused much discussion: great blame was thrown upon the undertaking, and many adverse judgments were uttered. Some said that Filippo had taken to his bed from grief, at finding that he had not power to accomplish the erection of the Cupola, and that he was now repenting of having meddled with the matter; but his friends defended him, declaring that his vexation might arise from the wrong he had suffered in having Lorenzo given to him as a colleague, but that his disorder was pleurisy, brought on by his excessive labors for the work. In the midst of all this tumult of tongues, the building was suspended, and almost all the operations of the masons and stone-cutters came to a stand. These men murmured against Lorenzo, and said, 'He is good enough at drawing the salary, but when it comes to directing the manner in which we are to proceed, he does nothing; if Filippo were not here, or if he should remain long disabled, what can Lorenzo do? and if Filippo be ill, is that his fault?' The wardens, perceiving the discredit that accrued to them from this state of things, resolved to make Filippo a visit, and having reached his house, they first condoled with him on his illness, told him into what disorder the building had fallen, and described the troubles which this malady had brought on them. Whereupon Filippo, speaking with much heat, partly to keep up the feint of illness, but also in part from his interest in the work, exclaimed, 'What! is not Lorenzo there? why does not he do something? I cannot but wonder at your complaints.' To this the wardens replied, 'He will not do anything without you.' Whereunto Filippo made answer, 'But I could do it well enough without him.' This acute and doubly significant reply sufficed to the wardens, and they departed, having convinced themselves that Filippo was sick of the desire to work alone; they therefore sent certain of his friends to draw him from his bed, with the intention of removing Lorenzo from the work. Filippo then returned to the building, but seeing the power that Lorenzo possessed by means of the favor he enjoyed, and that he desired to receive the salary without taking any share whatever in the labor, he bethought himself of another method for disgracing him, and making it publicly and fully evident that he had very little knowledge of the matter in hand. He consequently made the following discourse to the wardens (Operai) Lorenzo being present:—'Signori Operai, if the time we have to live were as well secured to us as is the certainty that we may very quickly die, there is no doubt whatever that many works would be completed, which are now commenced and left imperfect. The malady with which I have had the misfortune to be attacked, might have deprived me of life, and put a stop to this work; wherefore, lest I should again fall sick, or Lorenzo either, which God forbid, I have considered that it would be better for each to execute his own portion of the work: as your worships have divided the salary, let us also divide the labor, to the end that each, being incited to show what he knows and is capable of performing, may proceed with confidence, to his own honor and benefit, as well as to that of the republic. Now there are two difficult operations which must at this time be put into course of execution—the one is the erection of scaffoldings for enabling the builders to work in safety, and which must be prepared both for the inside and outside of the fabric, where they will be required to sustain the weight of the men, the stones and the mortar, with space also for the crane to draw up the different materials, and for other machines and tools of various kinds. The other difficulty is the chain-work, which has to be constructed upon the twelve braccia already erected, this being requisite to bind and secure the eight sides of the cupola, and which must surround the fabric, enchaining the whole, in such a manner that the weight which has hereafter to be laid on it shall press equally on all sides, the parts mutually supporting each other, so that no part of the edifice shall be too heavily pressed on or overweighed, but that all shall rest firmly on its own basis. Let Lorenzo then take one of these works, whichever he may think he can most easily execute; I will take the other, and answer for bringing it to a successful issue, that we may lose no more time.' Lorenzo having heard this, was compelled, for the sake of his honor, to accept one or other of these undertakings; and although he did it very unwillingly, he resolved to take the chain work, thinking that he might rely on the counsels of the builders, and remembering also that there was a chain-work of stone in the vaulting of San Giovanni di Fiorenza, from which he might take a part, if not the whole, of the arrangement. One took the scaffolds in hand accordingly, and the other the chain-work, so that both were put in progress. The scaffolds of Filippo were constructed with so much ingenuity and judgment, that in this matter the very contrary of what many had before expected was seen to have happened, since the builders worked thereon with as much security as they would have done on the ground beneath, drawing up all the requisite weights and standing themselves in perfect safety. The models of these scaffolds were deposited in the hall of the wardens. Lorenzo executed the chain-work on one of the eight walls with the utmost difficulty, and when it was finished the wardens caused Filippo to look at it. He said nothing to them, but with some of his friends he held discourse on the subject, declaring that the building required a very different work of ligature and security to that one, laid in a manner altogether unlike the method there adopted; for that this would not suffice to support the weight which was to be laid on it, the pressure not being of sufficient strength and firmness. He added that the sums paid to Lorenzo, with the chain-work which he had caused to be constructed, were so much labor, time, and money thrown away. The remarks of Filippo became known, and he was called upon to show the manner that ought to be adopted for the construction of such a chain-work; wherefore, having already prepared his designs and models, he exhibited them immediately, and they were no sooner examined by the wardens and other masters, than they perceived the error into which they had fallen by favoring Lorenzo. For this they now resolved to make amends; and desiring to prove that they were capable of distinguishing merit, they made Filippo chief and superintendent of the whole fabric for life, commanding that nothing should be done in the work but as he should direct. As a further mark of approbation, they presented him moreover with a hundred florins, ordered by the syndics and wardens, under date of August 13, 1423, through Lorenzo Paoli, notary of the administration of the works, and signed by Gherardo di Messer Filippo Corsini: they also voted him an allowance of one hundred florins for life. Whereupon, having taken measures for the future progress of the fabric, Filippo conducted the works with so much solicitude and such minute attention, that there was not a stone placed in the building which he had not examined. Lorenzo on the other hand, finding himself vanquished and in a manner disgraced, was nevertheless so powerfully assisted and favored by his friends, that he continued to receive his salary, under the pretext that he could not be dismissed until the expiration of three years from that time.[4]

"Drawings and models were meanwhile continually prepared by Filippo for the most minute portions of the building, for the stages or scaffolds for the workmen, and for the machines used in raising the materials. There were nevertheless several malicious persons, friends of Lorenzo, who did not cease to torment him by daily bringing forward models in rivalry of those constructed by him, insomuch that one was made by Maestro Antonio da Verzelli, and other masters who were favored and brought into notice—now by one citizen and now by another, their fickleness and mutability betraying the insufficiency of their knowledge and the weakness of their judgment, since having perfection within their reach, they perpetually brought forward the imperfect and useless.

"The chain-work was now completed around all the eight sides, and the builders, animated by success, worked vigorously; but being pressed more than usual by Filippo, and having received certain reprimands concerning the masonry and in relation to other matters of daily occurrence, discontents began to prevail. Moved by this circumstance and by their envy, the chiefs among them drew together and got up a faction, declaring that the work was a laborious and perilous undertaking, and that they would not proceed with the vaulting of the cupola, but on condition of receiving large payments, although their wages had already been increased and were much higher than was usual: by these means they hoped to injure Filippo and increase their own gains. This circumstance displeased the wardens greatly, as it did Filippo also; but the latter, having reflected on the matter, took his resolution, and one Saturday evening he dismissed them all. The men seeing themselves thus sent about their business, and not knowing how the affair would turn, were very sullen; but on the following Monday Filippo set ten Lombards to work at the building, and by remaining constantly present with them, and saying, 'do this here' and 'do that there,' he taught them so much in one day that they were able to continue the work during many weeks. The masons, seeing themselves thus disgraced as well as deprived of their employment, and knowing that they would find no work equally profitable, sent messengers to Filippo, declaring that they would willingly return, and recommending themselves to his consideration. Filippo kept them for several days in suspense, and seemed not inclined to admit them again; they were afterwards reinstated, but with lower wages than they had received at first: thus where they had thought to make gain they suffered loss, and by seeking to revenge themselves on Filippo, they brought injury and shame on their own heads.

"The tongues of the envious were now silenced, and when the building was seen to proceed so happily, the genius of Filippo obtained its due consideration; and, by all who judged dispassionately, he was already held to have shown a boldness which has, perhaps, never before been displayed in their works, by any architect, ancient or modern. This opinion was confirmed by the fact that Filippo now brought out his model, in which all might see the extraordinary amount of thought bestowed on every detail of the building. The varied invention displayed in the staircases, in the provision of lights, both within and without, so that none might strike or injure themselves in the darkness, were all made manifest, with the careful consideration evinced by the different supports of iron which were placed to assist the footsteps wherever the ascent was steep. In addition to all this, Filippo had even thought of the irons for fixing scaffolds within the cupola, if ever they should be required for the execution of mosaics or pictures; he had selected the least dangerous positions for the places of the conduits, to be afterwards constructed for carrying off the rain water, had shown where these were to be covered and where uncovered; and had moreover contrived different outlets and apertures, whereby the force of the winds should be diminished, to the end that neither vapors nor the vibrations of the earth, should have power to do injury to the building: all which proved the extent to which he had profited by his studies, during the many years of his residence in Rome. When in addition to these things, the superintendents considered how much he had accomplished in the shaping, fixing, uniting, and securing the stones of this immense pile, they were almost awe-struck on perceiving that the mind of one man had been capable of all that Filippo had now proved himself able to perform. His powers and facilities continually increased, and that to such an extent, that there was no operation, however difficult and complex, which he did not render easy and simple; of this he gave proof in one instance among others, by the employment of wheels and counterpoises to raise heavy weights, so that one ox could draw more than six pairs could have moved by the ordinary methods. The building had now reached such a height, that when a man had once arrived at the summit, it was a very great labor to descend to the ground, and the workmen lost much time in going to their meals, and to drink; arrangements were therefore made by Filippo, for opening wine-shops and eating-houses in the cupola; where the required food being sold, none were compelled to leave their labor until the evening, which was a relief and convenience to the men, as well as a very important advantage to the work. Perceiving the building to proceed rapidly, and finding all his undertakings happily successful, the zeal and confidence of Filippo increased, and he labored perpetually; he went himself to the ovens where the bricks were made, examined the clay, proved the quality of the working, and when they were baked he would select and set them apart, with his own hands. In like manner, while the stones were under the hands of the stone-cutters, he would look narrowly to see that they were hard and free from clefts; he supplied the stone-cutters with models in wood or wax, or hastily cut on the spot from turnips, to direct them in the shaping and junction of the different masses; he did the same for the men who prepared the iron work; Filippo likewise invented hook hinges, with the mode of fixing them to the door-posts, and greatly facilitated the practice of architecture, which was certainly brought by his labors to a perfection that it would else perhaps never have attained among the Tuscans.

"In the year 1423, when the utmost rejoicing and festivity was prevailing in Florence, Filippo was chosen one of the Signori for the district of San Giovanni, for the months of May and June; Lapo Niccolini being chosen Gonfalonier for the district of Santa Croce: and if Filippo be found registered in the Priorista as 'di Ser Brunellesce Lippi,' this need not occasion surprise, since they called him so after his grandfather, Lippo, instead of 'di Lapi,' as they ought to have done. And this practice is seen to prevail in the Priorista, with respect to many others, as is well known to all who have examined it, or who are acquainted with the custom of those times. Filippo performed his functions carefully in that office; and in others connected with the magistracy of the city, to which he was subsequently appointed, he constantly acquitted himself with the most judicious consideration.

"The two vaults of the cupola were now approaching their close, at the circular window where the lantern was to begin, and there now remained to Filippo, who had made various models in wood and clay, both of the one and the other, in Rome and Florence, to decide finally as to which of these he would put in execution, wherefore he resolved to complete the gallery, and accordingly made different plans for it, which remained in the hall of wardens after his death, but which by the neglect of those officials have since been lost. But it was not until our own days that even a fragment was executed on a part of one of the eight sides (to the end that the building might be completed); but as it was not in accordance with the plan of Filippo, it was removed by the advice of Michael Angelo Buonarotti, and was not again attempted.

"Filippo also constructed a model for the lantern, with his own hand; it had eight sides, the proportions were in harmony with those of the cupola, and for the invention as well as variety and decoration, it was certainly very beautiful. He did not omit the staircase for ascending to the ball, which was an admirable thing; but as he had closed the entrance with a morsel of wood fixed at the lower part, no one but himself knew its position. Filippo was now highly renowned, but notwithstanding this, and although he had already overcome the envy and abated the arrogance of so many opponents, he could not yet escape the vexation of finding that all the masters of Florence, when his model had been seen, were setting themselves to make others in various manners; nay, there was even a lady of the Gaddi family, who ventured to place her knowledge in competition with that of Filippo. The latter, meanwhile, could not refrain from laughing at the presumption of these people, and when he was told by certain of his friends that he ought not to show his model to any artist lest they should learn from it, he replied that there was but one true model, and that the others were good for nothing. Some of the other masters had used parts of Filippo's model for their own, which, when the latter perceived, he remarked, 'The next model made by this personage will be mine altogether.' The work of Filippo was very highly praised, with the exception, that, not perceiving the staircase by which the ball was to be attained, the model was considered defective on that point. The superintendents determined, nevertheless, to give him the commission for the work, but on condition that he should show the staircase;[5] whereupon Filippo, removing the morsel of wood which he had placed at the foot of the stair, showed it constructed as it is now seen, within one of the piers, and presenting the form of a hollow reed or blow-pipe, having a recess or groove on one side, with bars of bronze, by means of which the summit was gradually attained. Filippo was now at an age which rendered it impossible that he should live to see the lantern completed; he therefore left directions, by his will, that it should be built after the model here described, and according to the rules which he had laid down in writing, affirming that the fabric would otherwise be in danger of falling, since, being constructed with the pointed arch, it required to be rendered secure by means of the pressure of the weight to be thus added. But, though Filippo could not complete the edifice before his death, he raised the lantern to the height of several braccia, causing almost all the marbles required for the completion of the building to be carefully prepared and brought to the place. At the sight of these huge masses as they arrived, the people stood amazed, marvelling that it should be possible for Filippo to propose the laying of such a weight on the cupola. It was, indeed, the opinion of many intelligent men that it could not possibly support that weight. It appeared to them to be a piece of good fortune that he had conducted it so far, and they considered the loading it so heavy to be a tempting of Providence. Filippo constantly laughed at these fears, and having prepared all the machines and instruments required for the construction of the edifice, he ceased not to employ all his time in taking thought for its future requirements, providing and preparing all the minutiæ, even to guarding against the danger of the marbles being chipped as they were drawn up: to which intent the arches of the tabernacles were built within defences of woodwork; and for all beside the master gave models and written directions, as we have said.

"How beautiful this building is, it will itself bear testimony. With respect to the height, from the level ground to the commencement of the lantern, there are one hundred and fifty-four braccia;[6] the body of the lanthorn is thirty-six braccia high; the copper ball four braccia; the cross eight braccia; in all two hundred and two braccia. And it may be confidently affirmed that the ancients never carried their buildings to so vast a height, nor committed themselves to so great a risk as to dare a competition with the heavens, which this structure verily appears to do, seeing that it rears itself to such an elevation that the hills around Florence do not appear to equal it. And of a truth it might seem that the heavens were envious of its height, since their lightnings perpetually strike it. While this work was in progress, Filippo constructed many other fabrics."