Leon Battista Alberti

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Works S. Andrea, at Mantua, Italy, 1470 to 1476.
S. Maria Novella, at Florence, Italy, 1456 to 1470.
San Sebastiano, at Mantua, Italy, 1459.

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Leon Battista Alberti

(b. Genoa, Italy 1404; d. Rome 1472)

Leon Battista Alberti was born in Genoa in 1404. The first theorist of Humanist art, Alberti belonged to an important Florentine family that had been exiled from Florence since 1387. When the family returned to the city in 1429 Alberti gained access to the city's great architecture and art which he studied extensively. Well-versed in Latin and Greek, Alberti never received a formal architectural education. His architectural ideas were the product of his own studies and research.

Alberti's two main architectural writings are "De Pictura" (1435), in which he emphatically declares the importance of painting as a base for architecture and "De Re Aedificatoria" (1450) his theoretical masterpiece. Like Vitruvius's "Ten Books on Architecture", "De Re Aedificatoria" was subdivided into ten books. Unlike Vitruvius's book, Alberti's told architects how buildings should be built, not how they were built. "De Re Aedificatoria" remained the classic treatise on architecture from the sixteenth century until the eighteenth century.

The unfinished Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini (1450) was the first building that Alberti designed and attempted to build based on his architectural principals. Up to that point Alberti's architectural experience was purely theoretic. The facade of Santa Maria Novella (1458-71) is considered his greatest achievement since it allows the pre-existing and newly added parts of the building to merge into a clear statement of his new principles.

Alberti died in Rome in 1472.

Dennis Sharp. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture. New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991. NA 40.I45. ISBN 0-8230-2539-X. p 11-12.

Resources Sources on Leon Battista Alberti

Leon Battista Alberti. On the Art of Building in Ten Books. (De Re Aedificatoria, 1450). Joseph Rykwert, Neil Leach, Robert Tavernor, translators. ISBN 026251060X. — Available at   Find books about Leon Battista Alberti

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Web Resources Links on Leon Battista Alberti

Paoli's AlbertiAn extensive scholarly bibliography on Alberti (in French).

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