(b Florence, 1377; d Florence, 16 April 1446).
Italian architect and sculptor. He is traditionally regarded as the father of Renaissance architecture, who, in the words of Vasari, ‘was sent by Heaven to invest architecture with new forms, after it had wandered astray for many centuries’. The ‘new forms’ were those of Classical antiquity, which Brunelleschi applied to such building types as churches and orphanages for which there were no ancient precedents. In these schemes he was the first since antiquity to make use of the Classical orders; at the same time he employed a proportional system of his own invention, in which all units were related to a simple module, the mathematical characteristics of which informed the entire structure. Brunelleschi worked almost exclusively in Florence, and many features link his architecture with the Romanesque—if not the Gothic—heritage of that city. Nevertheless, he was beyond question responsible for initiating the rediscovery of ancient Roman architecture. He understood its inherent principles and he employed them in an original manner for the building tasks of his own day.