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Video transcript
(piano music) Steven: One of the great Renaissance spaces is the Pazzi Chapel at Santa Croce, and we're sitting in it, and we're sitting on a bench that lines the wall, because this was originally used as a chapter house. Beth: Meaning a meeting room for the monks of Santa Croce. Steven: And so they would have sat right where we are sitting. Beth: Just off the cloister. Steven: Which is the traditional place for the chapter house. Beth: So we're really looking at something that is a true early-Renaissance work of architecture by Brunelleschi, although it was completed after his death, and we see all of those elements that we come to expect of Brunelleschi. The use of pietra serena, the grayish green stone that articulates the decorative elements on the walls. Steven: But it also articulates the walls themselves, and the space and the dominance of a kind of perfect geometry. Beth: We immediately have a sense of rectangles and squares and circles and semicircles, but my overwhelming feeling on walking in was that I was almost walking into an ancient Roman temple. Steven: Ah, okay; so this is very close to a central planned space; that is to say, something like the Pantheon, and there is an attention to the kind of perfect geometries and centrality that we really do associate with the ancient world, and so I think you're right. I think he's working very hard to create this classicism, this revival of the standards and the ideas of ancient Rome. Beth: Lovely fluted pilasters, long walls, and the hemispherical dome with an oculus in the center, and windows piercing its sides, so you have this really lovely light that comes into the chapel, a dome on pendentives, and in the pendentives, those triangular spaces that the dome rests on. We see roundels. Steven: Terracotta, and these would have been made by Luca della Robbia, who had recently perfected the ability to fire at a high-enough temperature to vitrify. What he used, what we consider modern glazes. Beth: Really is that sense of a centrally-planned space. Wanting to create a space that wasn't a basilica. This is a chapter house and not a church, but still that desire to work with a centrally-planned space, that becomes even more important in the high Renaissance, for artists like Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci. Steven: You walk into this space and you have this overwhelming feeling that you are in a completely constructed, ordered, designed environment. This is a space that is rational, where everything is subservient to the overall design conception. We've been talking about this space as if it were a central plan, but it's not quite. Beth: No. Steven: It is a little bit broader than it is long, and when you look up at that central dome, which is clearly dominant, there are small barrel vaults on either side. Beth: He took a rectangular space, and made it, as much as possible, into a square with a dome on top; two little barrel vaulted spaces on either side. Steven: And that's emphasized, not only by the geometry of the vaulting, but also of the geometry of the paving. The dome clearly constructs the space, and does give it that overwhelming feeling of classicism. (piano music)