Riccardi Palace at Florence

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“An expression of great massiveness is the main characteristics of this Florentine style, which was principally applied in the architecture of the palaces. The forms which were borrowed from the Roman columnar construction do not in this style, as they do more or less in the other styles of the Renaissance, constitute a pseudo-architecture. The massiveness, however, of the Florentine palaces conveys rather the notion of a fortress than of a mansion of a wealthy nobleman, and this impression is increased by the smallness of the windows in comparison with the rest of the building. This is especially the case with those façades which are entirely constructed of considerably projecting ashlar of irregular size, and to a less degree in the case of those the lowest storey of which alone displays these large undressed blocks.” The palace was designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo for Cosimo de’ Medici, of the Medici family, and was built between 1445 and 1460. It was well known for its stone masonry that includes rustication and ashlar. The tripartite elevation was used here as a revelation of the Renaissance spirit of rationality, order, and classicism of human scale. This tripartite division is emphasized horizontal stringcourses that divide the building into stories of decreasing height. This makes the building seem lighter as the eye moves up to the extremely heavy cornice that caps and clearly defines the building’s outline. Michelozzo di Bartolomeo was influenced in his building of this palace by both Roman principles and Brunelleschian principles. During the Renaissance revival of classical culture, Roman elements were often replicated in architecture, both built and imagined in paintings. In the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, the rusticated masonry and the cornice had precedents in Roman art.


A. Rosengarten, W. Collett-Sandars A Handbook of Architectural Styles (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895)


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