di Giorgio Martini
Francesco di Giorgio
Martini (Siena,1439-Siena, 29 novembre 1501) is probably
one of the most
remarkable artists in the Senese artistic panorama of mid 1400. He
was a painter, an architect, an engineer. As an architect he planned
fortresses, and brick palaces. He was a refined designer, his drawings
were elegant. He was called to Loreto as a consultant because the
dome was on the verge of collapse (1500). Since 1477 he lived in Urbino at
the court of the Dukes of Montefeltro.
There he worked as a military architect. In Marche in fact Martini has
left its masterpieces of military architecture: magnificent wall
fortifications. They were as useful as weapons. Martini conception of
urban defence is that the city is like a human body. The head is
represented by the fortress that has the task of guarantying safety to all
di Giorgio in 1481, on account of Federico II di Urbino built the Cagli
fortress. It was then destroyed by the son of the duke,
Guidobaldo in 1502. He did so to avoid that Cesare Borgia, Duke Valentino,
took possession of it. Of that imposing fortress only the main tower is
left and with it just a few drains all around that remind of the ancient
Ubaldinesca di Sassocorvaro is instead preserved in all its splendour.
It was designed and built with a vessel shaped plant in just two years
(1476-1478). It embodies both the strength of a military building ( the
turtle shaped plant is evidence of it) and the elegance of a noble house
(the wonderful main yard and the roof loggia). Martini in this fortress
experimented the round shape, following his theory that this particular
outline made attacks with bombs less effective. A thick net of dark
galleries cut the fortress through. They were easy and fast passages that
allowed quick communications between the sentries in case of attack.
fortress of Moldavio was commissioned by Giovanni della
Rovere. Martini worked on it from 1488 to 1501 year of his death. It is
still unfinished. It is anyway remarkable the donjon built on polygonal
basis. It is ornate all around with the characteristic dregs and
battlements. Together with the other towers it offers an outlook much
different from the fortresses built since then. The builders would in fact
contrast bombing attacks with huge walls, in this case instead the empty
spaces played the part of reducing the possibility of damages to the
di Giorgio in 1474 restored the stronghold of Sant’Agata Feltria that
had been built throughout the twelfth and the fifteenth century. The
mysterious fortress Fregoso dominates the underneath town form the top of
a slope. It has a rough and ready outlook, a polygonal plant and angular
towers to strengthen the structure.
Leo fortress has even been mentioned by Dante in the sixth ‘canto’
of his ‘Divina Commedia’. It is magnificent. It seems to have melted
with the rock it is built on. It is of ancient origins. Martini restored
it completely in 1475 and turned it into an imposing means of defence. It
is still characterized by a classic elegance though.
fortress of the Malatesta in Montecerignone was almost certainly
restored by Francesco di Giorgio. It is thought though that also Leon
Battista Alberti in earlier times (second half of the fifteenth century)
had had a part in renovating the stronghold. Martini enriched its medieval
structure with elements that expressed at full in the meantime both the
architectonic strength of the building and the sobriety that had always
characterized the architect style.
fortress in Fossombrone was a defence both for the village beyond
and for the Metaurus Valley. At the time of the Malatesta, the stronghold
had a squared shape. Francesco di Giorgio in 1470 made it a complex and
articulated fortified building, by adding the impressive ‘caput
carenato’. It is the only example in all the duchy of Montefeltro. Of
all this structure just the sidewalls still stand, together with the
donjon and three towers. The fortress in Frontone due to several
restorations throughout the century has assumed the form of a vessel with
a remarkable prow. Its triangular strut reminds of the fortress of San
Leo. This is why Martini is supposed to have strengthened the defensive
system of this castle as well.
has not only shown his wits in the engines of war, but also in machinery
for production purposes. They were in fact effective realizations of an
ingenious and modern conception of technique.
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