Donato Bramante: The Architect of the High Renaissance

Donato Bramante: The Architect of the High Renaissance

Donato Bramante was an Italian architect and painter who introduced the High Renaissance style in architecture. He was born in 1444 in Fermignano, near Urbino, where he received his artistic training. He moved to Milan in 1474, where he worked for the Duke Ludovico Sforza and built several churches and cloisters in the new Antique style. He also painted trompe-l’oeil perspectives and frescoes.

In 1499, he left Milan and went to Rome, where he was patronized by Pope Julius II and other powerful cardinals. He designed the Tempietto at San Pietro in Montorio, a small circular chapel that marked the beginning of the High Renaissance in Rome. He also planned the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican palace, and other monumental projects. He was influenced by the classical architecture of ancient Rome and Greece, as well as by contemporary artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Bramante died in 1514, leaving many of his works unfinished or altered by his successors. He was regarded as one of the greatest architects of his time and a master of perspective, proportion, and harmony. His legacy can be seen in the works of Raphael, Antonio da Sangallo, Baldassare Peruzzi, and Andrea Palladio.

Bramante’s works in Milan show his mastery of perspective, geometry, and classical motifs. He transformed the Gothic style of the local architecture into a new language based on the ancient Roman models. He also experimented with different spatial solutions, such as the trompe-l’oeil choir of Santa Maria presso San Satiro, which creates the illusion of a deep apse in a very narrow space. He also designed the elegant octagonal sacristy and the tribune of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci painted his famous Last Supper.

In Rome, Bramante reached the peak of his artistic career. He was entrusted with the most ambitious projects by the popes and the cardinals, who wanted to renovate the city and make it a symbol of the Christian faith and culture. Bramante’s Tempietto is considered a masterpiece of harmony and proportion, inspired by the ancient circular temples. He also conceived a grandiose plan for St. Peter’s Basilica, which was meant to replace the old basilica built by Constantine. His design was based on a Greek cross with a huge dome at the center, surrounded by four smaller domes. Although his plan was later modified by his successors, he set the basis for the final outcome.

Bramante also worked on other important buildings in Rome, such as the Vatican palace, where he designed the Cortile del Belvedere, a large courtyard that connected the papal residence with the Vatican gardens and the Villa Belvedere. He also built several churches, such as San Lorenzo in Damaso, Santa Maria della Pace, and San Pietro in Montorio. He also designed some palaces and villas for his patrons, such as Palazzo Caprini (also known as Raphael’s House) and Villa Madama.