Filippo Brunelleschi Biography

Early Life

Filippo Brunelleschi, one of the seminal figures of the Italian Renaissance, was born in 1377 in Florence, Italy. He was the second of three sons of a distinguished and empathetic family. Though his early life is not well-documented, his father was a notary, a high-ranking civil servant in the 14th century, and he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps.


Unlike many other artists of his time, Brunelleschi did not come from a family of artists nor did he receive a typical artist’s apprenticeship. Instead, he was formally trained as a goldsmith and sculptor. He did, however, devote himself to studying the ruins and buildings of Rome, demonstrating an interest in architecture early in his career. He learned and applied the principles of mathematical perspective, physical space, and the visual effects of light in his work, forming the basis for what would later become the principles of Renaissance architecture.


Brunelleschi was heavily influenced by his extensive studies of Roman architecture. He closely observed the architectural principles used in buildings like the Pantheon, applying and reinventing these ideas for his designs. Among the models he studied, the Roman amphitheater played a central role in Brunelleschi’s development of linear perspective. He was also influenced by his contemporaries, particularly Donatello, with whom he had a close friendship and collaboration.

Major Artwork

Brunelleschi is best known for designing and overseeing the construction of the dome of Florence’s Cathedral, the Duomo. It stands as a testament to Brunelleschi’s architectural genius and innovative techniques. Even today, it remains the largest masonry dome ever built, a glory crowning Florence, symbolic of the city’s wealth and power.

Another significant work includes the Ospedale degli Innocenti, or Hospital of the Innocents, a children’s orphanage which was the first building ever to incorporate the new style of Renaissance architecture.

Brunelleschi also made significant contributions to the development of linear perspective in art, which he demonstrated in his partially lost artwork, The Baptistry Doors.

Art Movements

Brunelleschi was at the forefront of the Renaissance, a movement that marked the shift from the Middle Ages to modernity. His innovative architectural designs, including a focus on mathematical harmony and the revival of antiquity, became defining characteristics of the Renaissance.

More significantly, the principles of linear perspective Brunelleschi developed were central to the Renaissance art movement. This discovery, which gave depth and realism to visual art, had a profound influence on his contemporaries, including Masaccio and Donatello, and subsequent generations of artists.


Brunelleschi passed away in 1446, leaving behind a rich legacy that significantly shaped the world of art and architecture. His work exudes a timeless quality, and his contributions to the Renaissance movement were invaluable. Meager words fail to encapsulate his brilliance and versatile talent fully. His revolutionary approach to architecture, distinctly visible in the dome of Florence’s Cathedral, the Duomo, has earned him worldwide acclaim and recognition. Today, Brunelleschi is revered as one of the most prominent figures in architectural history, and he remains a vital touchstone in the study of Renaissance art and architecture.

All Filippo Brunelleschi Artwork on 30 Art

Artwork Name Year Medium
Perspective drawing for Church of Santo Spirito in Florence c.1428; Italy
Saint Peter 1413; Italy
San Lorenzo, Florence c.1419
Sketches of the machines c.1430; Italy
Sketches of the machines c.1430; Italy