Filippo di ser Brunellesco Lapi was born in 1377 in Florence, son of a notary. The intention to follow in the footsteps of his father was soon abandoned, he worked in a workshop as a goldsmith: goldsmiths are his first works, as shown by his collaboration in the creation of the silver altar of San Jacopo in Pistoia. Although he is part of the goldsmiths' guild, however, he is mainly interested in architecture: and so, while his activity in the shop is more and more listless, more passion is devoted to prospective studies, with numerous optical experiments of important scientific value. .
In 1401, therefore, Filippo participates in the Florentine competition organized by the Art of Merchants of Calimala to give life to the second door of the Baptistery. The sources about the final result of the competition are not clear: some speak of a victory with the Ghiberti ex aequo, who speaks of a second place. Certainly, until 1416 he never returned to the city after having gone to Rome together with his friend Donatello.
Precisely in the Eternal City he studies classicalism with enthusiasm, not forgetting other subjects: Brunelleschi, in fact, is not only an exceptional architect, but also a military engineer, a mathematician, a naval engineer, a geometry expert, a literary scholar, a inventor, a construction expert, a creator of musical instruments and a fan of the "Divina Commedia" by Dante Alighieri. In 1418, Filippo participates in a competition aimed at the realization of the Dome of the Duomo of Florence: this will be the road that will consecrate him from the artistic point of view.
Initially flanked by Ghiberti, who nevertheless leaves aside after a short time (to the point that art historians agree not to consider him the father of any intervention on the Dome), he concludes the work only in 1436: during this period, naturally , is also dedicated to other projects, such as the Hospital of the Innocents of 1419, the Old Sacristy of 1421, the Church of San Lorenzo of 1423, and still the Cappezza de 'Pazzi, Santa Maria del Fiore, the Church of Santo Spirito and Palazzo Pitti, in the thirties of the fifteenth century.
The Church of Santo Sprito is a masterpiece based on the combination of central and Latin cross: the entire structure, including the capocroce and the transept, is surrounded by a colonnade of square bays, giving rise to a walkway where 40 chapels open at the niche. The dome is located at the intersection of the arms, originally designed by Brunelleschi without a drum in such a way as to favor the brightness of the central altar table.
Moreover, during these years, he travels a lot, staying in several Italian cities: in Mantua, Ferrara and Rome for artistic needs, in Pisa and Lucca to make available his own knowledge of military engineering, in Florence to create rigs (for example the one made during a representation of the Archangel Gabriel in San Felice in Piazza).
In 1445 the first architecture begun by Brunelleschi was inaugurated, that is the Spedale degli Innocenti: in the same year the work began for the Tribune del Duomo, actually designed seven years earlier, and the installation of the lantern.
He dies, in the night between 15 and 16 April of 1446, in Florence. His tomb is placed first in a niche forming part of Giotto's bell tower, and then moved to the Cathedral: it will be rediscovered only in the seventies of the twentieth century, thanks to the excavations under the cathedral of the Church of Santa Reparata.
Set designer, sculptor and architect, Filippo Brunelleschi is unanimously recognized as one of the initiators of the Florentine Renaissance together with Masaccio and Donatello, with respect to which he also represented a point of reference. Inventor of the linear centric perspective, that is to say of the unique point of escape perspective, he constituted the first example of architect and modern, involved, as well as in the operational and technical phase, also in the design process: thanks to him, in short, the architecture turned from purely mechanical art to liberal art based on historical knowledge, geometry and mathematics.
Thanks to his ingenuity, monumental works characterized by cleanliness, clarity and order, created from modules expressed in Florentine arms from which perfect proportions were obtained in multiples and submultiples. In other words, the starting point of his art was the purity of forms, guaranteed by the essential use of decorative elements and by the use of a round arch.