Donato Bramante

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Bramante, Donato

Bramante, Donato (dōnäˈtō brämänˈtā), 1444–1514, Italian Renaissance architect and painter, b. near Urbino. His buildings in Rome are considered the most characteristic examples of High Renaissance style. In 1477 he painted frescoes in the municipal palace at Bergamo. In Milan and neighboring cities including Pavia and Vigevano, he executed paintings that recall works by Piero della Francesca and Mantegna. Bramante designed much of the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro in Milan; its famous choir, painted in perspective, gives an illusion of great depth, although it is extremely shallow. He may also have planned the east end of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a spacious domed appendage to an older Gothic church. After 1499 he left for Rome, where he designed the simple but graceful cloister for Santa Maria della Pace and the exquisitely proportioned circular Tempietto in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio. His other works in Rome include the Belvedere courtyard at the Vatican, designs for a massive Palace of the Tribunals, the choir of Santa Maria del Popolo and other churches, and his own large house with Doric columns rhythmically disposed above a massive rusticated ground floor. His most important work, however, was his plan for St. Peter's, probably conceived as a centrally planned (Greek cross) and domed structure of enormous size and impressiveness. He favored central plans and a sense of noble severity, especially in his Roman period. Although St. Peter's was later remodeled into a longitudinal structure, Bramante is responsible for the essential proportions of the east end, and his design influenced the appearance of many smaller churches.


See studies by G. Chierci (Am. ed. 1960) and A. Bruschi (1977).

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Bramante, Donato

High Renaissance architect, based in Milan, Italy. He designed the Tempietro of St. Pietro, which became a source work for designs for St. Peter’s in Rome built in 1506.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bramante, Donato


(pseudonym of Pascuccio d’Antonio). Born 1444, in Monte Asdrualdo (modern Fermignano), near Urbino; died Mar. 11, 1514, in Rome. Italian Renaissance architect.

Bramante spent his youth in Urbino, where he absorbed the advanced humanistic ideas of Piero della Francesca and Luciano Laurana. Before 1477 he moved to Milan, where he became familiar with the architectural innovations of Leonardo da Vinci. At first Bramante worked as a painter; this was reflected in his first architectural work—the reconstruction of the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro in Milan (1479–83). Bramante spanned the main nave and transept with powerful cylindrical vaults and used perspective paintings and bas-reliefs to create a choir covered by a similar vault. In the same church he executed harmonious centric compositions in the sacristy and the small Chapel of the Descent From the Cross. In the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan (1492–97), Bramante designed a choir and a light, spacious center for the cruciform ground plan, crowned by a light dome. Here, integrity of design was combined with the traditional decorativeness of Lombard architecture. He also created the basic design of the cathedral in Pavia (1488–92), whose dome is raised high above the spacious center of the cruciform plan on eight well-proportioned pillars.

After moving to Rome in 1499, Bramante occupied a leading place among the architects who created the Italian High Renaissance style, which had an impact on all European architecture. The facade of the Cancelleria Palace, completed by Bramante between 1499 and 1511, is severe and majestic. Bramante gave lightness and fluidity to the inner courtyard of the palace, with its two tiers of graceful arcades. The composition of the little courtyard of the Church of Santa Maria della Pace (1500–04) is original. In the lower tier of the courtyard, pillars support an arcade; in the upper tier the pillars alternate with Corinthian columns, and they are topped by an architrave. Bramante achieved the greatest flowing integrity, clarity, and buoyant harmony in the little domed rotunda chapel of the Tempietto (in the courtyard of the San Pietro Monastery in Montorio; 1502). The bottom of the chapel is encircled by a Roman Doric colonnade, and both tiers are interspersed with semicircular niches.

Beginning in 1503, Bramante executed extensive works in the Vatican commissioned by Pope Julius II. He designed the courtyard of San Damaso (circa 1510) and the Belvedere Court for tournaments and pageants (1503–04). The Belvedere Court is about 300 m long and ends in a huge niche. The difference in the levels of its three terraces was used to create places for spectators and a grotto with fountains. The Belvedere Court, which developed the methods of ancient Roman ensembles, anticipated the composition of many villas of a later period. From 1506 and until the end of his life Bramante worked on the plans and construction of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome. He proposed a centric structure with a ground plan in the shape of an equidimensional cross inside a quadrangle, with a mighty spherical dome over the center of the cross and four small domes and towers at the corners. The plan was never carried out, but its ideas were embodied in many central-domed buildings in Italy and other countries.

Bramante’s work was one of the high points of Renaissance architecture. He created architectural forms that were remarkable for their harmonious perfection, integrity, and free, creative application of classical forms.


Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury ν 12 tomakh, vol. 5. Moscow, 1967. Pages 151–82.
Förster, O. N. Bramante. Vienna-Munich, [1956].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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