Maria delle Grazie
Bramante - 1493
Bramante's Santa Maria delle Grazie done in 1493
is a Renaissance masterpiece. It illustrates perfectly the early
Renaissance attitude towards geometry and balance.
Within the lunette is a fresco by Leonardo da
Vinci. The portico is supported by Corinthian columns. Clearly
Bramante was aware of the principles set out by Vitruvius and
Alberti, and he has followed the ideas of proportion very closely.
The intrados of the lunette is created by a circle that can
be perfectly doubled between the floor level and the intrados.
The extrados creates a circle that when carried down ends in
the radius of two rondels in the column base. As well, the line
between the uppermost point of the capital on the right extending
down to the bottom of the base on the left exactly cuts the
door in two.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Clearly Bramante was aware of the principles set
out by Vitruvius and Alberti, and he has followed the ideas
of proportion very closely. The intrados of the lunette is created
by a circle that can be perfectly doubled between the floor
level and the intrados. The extrados creates a circle that when
carried down ends in the radius of two rondels in the column
base. As well, the line between the uppermost point of the capital
on the right extending down to the bottom of the base on the
left exactly cuts the door in two.
The Uffizi was built for Cosimo I de Medici in
the mid-16th century as a large office building. It was designed
by Georgio Vasari and completed, with minor changes, after his
The interior façade has a simple, elegant
design created with alternating triangular and Florentine pediments.
This is the signature feature of Renaissance Revival in Ontario.
If it has alternating pediments with triangular and Florentine
pediments, it is Renaissance Revival.
The Uffizi now houses one of the most important
art collections in the world.
You would not be surprised
to see a church like this anywhere in Italy. The majority of
churches built in Ontario before 1950 are Gothic
Revival. This one is clearly Classical and is, not surprisingly,
The first tier of the church is three times the
height of the door. There are grand manner columns,
columns of great height, topped with alternating triangular
and rounded pediments, in the Renaissance
manner. Unlike the Renaissance examples, however, the pediments
are broken. The second level
has a volute motif used frequently
on Jesuits churches. Atop both the first and the second tier
pediments there are balustrades,
also found in the Renaissance examples. Finally, crowning the
building is a copper domed campanile.
All the proportions are balanced and refined according to Renaissance
The same balance and harmony are found in this
Hamilton example. The design is symmetrical with an unadorned
façade broken by a large pedimented
portico as a main door and two side
doors with large cornices. Above
the side doors are roundels. The main
body of the building has an oversized cornice with large dentils.
In contrast to the simplicity of the main building,
the campanile is ornate and spectacular.
The first level has a round-headed arch
opening with a balustraded balcony
flanked by Ionic pilasters.
Atop this section is a large, decorated cornice.
The top of the campanile has a four-sided open
roundel with ornate molding. An acroterion
crowns the roof section which is also resplendent with white
ribs and decoration.
Similar to Italianate, but simpler and incorporating
more Renaissance motifs like the alternating pediment.
a detail of the upper level of a block of commercial buildings
in Stratford. The bays of the building are marked by brackets.
The elaborate cornice is not of wood,
as it appears, but of cast metal, probably tin. There are dentils
and a simple Renaissance pattern in the frieze.
The most outstanding feature,
however, are the arches over the windows.
The windows on the top row have a semicircular arch being the
intrados with a drop arch above as
the extrados. The lower row have
a pseudo-three-centered arch as the intrados and a two centered
pointed arch as the extrados. Between the intrados and extrados
of these arches the design is accentuated by dichromatic
brickwork reminiscent of many Italian buildings.
Similar to the above façade,
this corner store block has a cornice
produced by decorative brickwork. An architrave
and a row of dentils top a series
of dentilled corbels. Beneath this
is a frieze with a rope and geometric
The windows are well proportioned and have half-round
arches with simple keystones and
curving brick voussoirs. The extrados
The effect is one of refined and calculated uniformity.
Also in Simcoe, this pleasant public building
has window surrounds similar to those produced by Palladio
and his followers in Northern Italy.
The frontispiece is
discreet with accentuated dichromatic
quoins. The front door is not pronounced,
with a half-round lunette and little
molding or detailing. On either side of the door are brick pillars
reflective of the rustication
used on Italian palazzo design. All
windows have a "Gibbs Surround"
- use of alternating large and small blocks - popular in the
north of Italy.
The overall final effect is a very calm, elegant
This storefront façade has a mixture of
two window pediments. On the top floor are Baroque pediments
on a mansard roof. The next floor down has triangular pediments,
and the next floor down has Florentine.
Many Ontario towns have a mixture of Italianate
and Renaissance store fronts. This one in Shelbourne is a nice
second storey Palladian window with dichromatic brickwork and
Dundas has one of the most
impressive pre-1850 buildings in the province. This building,
designed by **** and finished in 1848, is made from local limestone
with an impressive ashlar finish.
The door on the Town Hall is a late Renaissance
style, verging on Baroque. The pediment is broken in many sections
and the center has an urn flanked by a series of stylized roses.
The keystone has an interesting agraffe. The fanlight is a large
semicircular radiating design. The pillars and the spandrel
design are French.
During the 19th century, Britain proved to be
a great country to leave. The rich lived very well, but
the poor had few priviledges or opportunities. This proved
to be a wonderful thing for Ontario when it became one of
the choice destinations for emmigrants looking for a new
The Renaissance Revival houses were important
for many reasons, not the least of which is that many of
these residences, single family and terraced, were created
by workmen who brought
building techniques from Britain and were able
to apply them to their own hones, something they could not
have done in Europe.
Most of Hamilton's 19th
century stone work is the product of Scottish stone masons who
came over beginning in the 1840s from small industrial towns
near Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Much of residential downtown,
Herkimer St., Park Street and James Street, was once comprised
of this type of stone terrace or rowhouse.
Sandyford Place was lucky to survive the wrecker's, and is the
best surviving stone terrace west of Montreal.
The facade of the terrace
is finely cut stone with an ashlar finish. The eave brackets
were part of the Italian repertoire popular at the time and
the windows are alternating Florentine pediments
and flat cornices of the Renaissance
Revival style. The windows are six over six sash.
Sandyford Place - Scottish
While the building is done
in the Renaissance Revival style
popularized in Europe by Indigo Jones and others, the workmen
were certainly Scottish as can be seen by the three sided dormers
on the roof. These can be found quite abundantly in the Maritimes,
but are somewhat rare in Upper Canada. This dormer design is
often called a Scottish Dormer since it is taken from the 18th
century dormer design in Scotland.
This is a rare example
of the Renaissance Revival style being applied to a residence.
The basis of Renaissance design was harmonious
proportion. Treatises by Renaissance architects such as Alberti
and Palladio defined what was appropriate in proportions and
applied them to their buildings. The result was calm grandeur
with a uniform use of Classical motifs.
In this house we see a semicircular
arch with an ornate reveal and
a plain lunette. The door
surround is composed of brick in a radiating pattern around
the lunette, and two decorative bands
on the spring line. The windows reflect
the same concern for quiet, balanced detailing. The result is
an example of Northern Renaissance design on a sophisticated
yet subtle doorway.
Extra Reading and Films
Blumenson, John. Ontario
Architecture A Guide to Styles and Terms.
Bolton, Jerry, The
Renaissance Bazaar, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University
Borsi, Franco, Leon
Battista Alberti, Harper and Row Publishers,
New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London, 1975, translated
by Rudolf G. Carpanini 1977
Giedion, Sigfried, Architecture
and the Phenomena of Transition, Harvard University
Press, Cambridge, Mass.1971
Maxwell, Robert, Sweet Disorder
and the Carelessly Careless; Theory and Criticism in Architecture,
Princeton Papers on Architecture, Princeton Architectural
Press, New York, 1993
Vitruvius, The Ten Books on
Architecture, translated by Morris Hicky Morgan,
Dover Publications, New York, 1960.
Girard Depardieu, The
Return of Martin Guerre