Emulating Antiquity Renaissance Buildings from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo David Hemsoll

Publication date:
26 Nov 2019
Yale University Press
352 pages: 254 x 178mm
300 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:


A revelatory account of the complex and evolving relationship of Renaissance architects to classical antiquity

Focusing on the work of architects such as Brunelleschi, Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo, this extensively illustrated volume explores how the understanding of the antique changed over the course of the Renaissance. David Hemsoll reveals the ways in which significant differences in imitative strategy distinguished the period’s leading architects from each other and argues for a more nuanced understanding of the widely accepted trope—first articulated by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century—that Renaissance architecture evolved through a linear step-by-step assimilation of antiquity. Offering an in-depth examination of the complex, sometimes contradictory, and often contentious ways that Renaissance architects approached the antique, this meticulously researched study brings to life a cacophony of voices and opinions that have been lost in the simplified Vasarian narrative and presents a fresh and comprehensive account of Renaissance architecture in both Florence and Rome.

David Hemsoll is senior lecturer in the Department of Art History, Curating, and Visual Studies at the University of Birmingham.

“A series of publications by the author has prepared the ground for the arguments put forward in this generously illustrated book...The book gives the impression that it is founded on long experience in teaching the history of Italian Renaissance architecture.”—Sabine Frommel, The Burlington Magazine

“This is a masterly work of architectural criticism, based on intensive first-hand study of the buildings and underpinned by deep scholarship and voracious exploration of the sources of inspiration.”—Deborah Howard, The Classical Review