Francesco di Giorgio Martini (baptized 23 September 1439 – 1502) was an
Italian painter of the Sienese School and a sculptor, as well as being, in
Nikolaus Pevsner's terms, "one of the most interesting later Quattrocento
architects'" and a visionary architectural theorist; as a military engineer
he executed architectural designs and sculptural projects and built almost
seventy fortifications for the Federico da Montefeltro, Count (later Duke) of
Urbino, for whom he was working in the 1460s, building city walls as at Iesi and
early examples of star-shaped fortifications.
Born in Siena, he apprenticed as a painter with Vecchietta. In panels painted
for cassoni he departed from the traditional representations of joyful wedding
processions in frieze-like formulas to express visions of ideal, symmetrical,
vast and all but empty urban spaces rendered in perspective.
He composed an architectural treatise Trattato di architettura, ingegneria e
arte militare, the third of the Quattrocento, after Leone Battista Alberti's and
Filarete's; he worked on it for decades and finished sometime after 1482; it
circulated in manuscript. Its projects were well in advance of completed
projects at the time, but innovations, for example in staircase planning,
running in flights and landings round an open center, or dividing at a landing
to return symmetrically on each wall, became part of architectural vocabulary in
the following century. The third book is preoccupied with the "ideal" city,
constrained within star-shaped polygonal geometries reminiscent of the star
fort, whose wedge-shaped bastions are said to have been his innovation.
Francesco di Giorgio finished his career as architect in charge of the works at
the Duomo di Siena, where his bronze angels are on the high altar and some
marble floor mosaics are attributed to his designs.
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