- Giuliano di Francesco Giamberti, known as ‘da Sangallo’
- Florence, 1445-1516
architect, military and hydraulic engineer, sculptor, engraver
- Florence; Rome; Sarzana, Siena, Milan, France
- Biographical information:
The eldest son of the carpenter Francesco di Bartolo Giamberti, Giuliano was the brother of Antonio da Sangallo the Elder. Both were reared within a circle of stone-masons and architects.
From 1465 Giuliano sojourned in Rome, studying ancient buildings and monuments, a practice to which he returned repeatedly throughout his life. The extensive corpus of drawings illustrates these studies, in addition to architectural projects and inventions of machines and mechanical instruments, such as devices for moving pyramids and obelisks. Giuliano’s technical interests are documented in particular by the Barberiniano Codex in the Vatican library and by the Siena Taccuino, or notebook.
Up to 1473 Giuliano was employed at the Papal court as a “master mason”. When he returned to Florence he devoted himself to wood carving, in particular Crucifixes and furnishings for the Servite friars of Santissima Annunziata, while at the same time working on projects of military engineering that enabled him to come into contact with the Medici.
He thus became the favourite architect of Lorenzo il Magnifico, who in 1480 commissioned from him the Villa of Poggio a Caiano that became the prototype of the Italian Renaissance villa.
The most important heir and interpreter of the teachings of Filippo Brunelleschi, Giuliano made an important contribution to the development of architecture on a central plan in the church of Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato, also commissioned by Lorenzo, which was the first Renaissance church built on a Greek cross plan and is the artist’s greatest masterpiece. Sangallo’s reflections on the central plan formula were then applied again in the sacristy of the church of Santo Spirito, once again commissioned by the Magnifico (1489-1492). Called upon to give an opinion on the facade of the same church, Giuliano supported Brunelleschi’s original idea featuring four doors, which was never actually implemented.
Around 1488 Giuliano built the church and monastery at the San Gallo gate, which the Magnifico then donated to the Augustinian friar Mariano da Gennazzano. According to Vasari (1568), it was this building that earned Giuliano the appellative ‘da San Gallo’. However this name, which was common to the entire family, may instead derive from the fact that in 1477 the Giamberti had purchased land close to the San Gallo gate.
In the meantime Giuliano continued to offer consultancy for military engineering works, for example on the occasion of the siege of Sarzana and for the fortress of Poggio Imperiale in Poggibonsi, making a decisive contribution to the development of modern fortifications.
By order of the Magnifico, he supplied plans for the palace of the King of Naples. In 1490 he began the construction of the palazzo of Francesco Gondi, which was completed in 1501. In the following year he served on the committee appointed to judge the entries in the competition announced by the Magnifico for the facade of the Duomo of Florence.
After Lorenzo’s death in 1492, Giuliano began to work intensively outside Florence, in particular in Sarzana, Siena, and Milan, where he met Leonardo. He went to France in 1494 and then again in 1496, when he presented the plan for a palace to the king, Charles VIII.
In the early years of the sixteenth century he was very active at the Papal court, although without relinquishing his contacts with Florence. Thus, together with Bramante, Fra’ Giocondo, Raphael and Michelangelo he took part in the major architectural and planning operations promoted by Pope Julius II and later by Leo X. Up to 1515 he was the chief architect in charge of the works on St. Peter’s basilica.
He then returned to Florence where he died the following year. He had one son, Francesco, who became a sculptor.
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