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Video transcript

we're in San Lorenzo in Florence in the old sacristy that's a room that is traditionally used in a church for the priests to vest that is to put on the garments for a religious ritual but in this case it was intended to be a mausoleum for the founder of the Medici dynasty divided dbt de Medici who's buried here along with his wife in the early 1400s when a group of people decided to rebuild the church that was here the families contributed money no it wasn't that they were chipping in each was in control of its own Chapel Giovanni de Buci de Medici decided to pay for the building of the sacristy he got a bigger space we got a bigger space he paid more money and he hired Brunelleschi he was smart we should say that when you enter the church the sacristy is off the left transit now known as the old sacristy because Michelangelo designed the new sacristy but here we are in Brunelleschi's old sacristy which is the epitome of Renaissance architecture now Brunelleschi has done some extraordinary things here first of all is the sense of solemnity of calmness that is in part a result of the extraordinary sense of geometry here and order rationalism so many of the characteristics that we associate with 15th century Florentine Renaissance thinking humanism so instead of the mysterious soaring spaces of a Gothic church we have a space built on the fundamental geometric shapes of the square and the circle and a sense of clarity this notion of geometry having a kind of philosophical importance and of course this is a burial site and so the idea of the eternal the idea in fact of resurrection is crucial here the room itself is a perfect square in fact one could argue it comes close to being a cube but then it's surmounted by this beautiful hemispheric dome and one of the ways in which art historians understand this is that this circle is a reference to the spirituality of the geometry of heaven if you think about a circle it has no beginning and no end like God whereas we inhabit the much more rectilinear space the earthly space the space of gravity and so how do you get the circle down to the square that is the room itself and he's done this by borrowing a technique that we find in Byzantine architecture thinking about hi Sofia which is to use a pendentive and in this case Brunelleschi's created these perfect hemispheres these perfect half circles that rise up but don't quite touch the bottom of the dome which creates a sense of lightness it is this sort of tension between that circle and that square that soin forms this entire room but it also informs its symbolism the same time it's just the colors the grayish green of the Pietra Serena which Brunelleschi and Michelangelo both used a lot stone that was local to Florence and that frames these broad open plains of a cream-colored stucco that really helps to emphasize the geometry of this right it sort of outlines the squares and rectangles and semi circles in circles so you really read the geometry one of the things it's remarkable about Brunelleschi is that he's clearly borrowing so many forms from ancient Greek and Roman art the plasters and the fluting and the Capitals and also this kind of rational approach to architecture but he's combining those elements and using them in a new way he is he's using as a kind of license to begin to construct a kind of rationalism that was for his modern world now Brunelleschi had gone to Rome and actually studied antique architecture and so we can certainly see that influence but you see nothing like this in Rome this is a Renaissance room you