Marco Treves, Project for the facade of the Cathedral

Marco Treves
Museo dell'Ottocento
Ink, watercolor pigments, paper
Drawing, watercolour
Height: 142 cm; Width: 108 cm;
Ink, watercolor pigments, paper

This project, in ink and polychrome watercolor on paper, is signed by the architect Marco Treves and embellished with a motto from Dante’s Divine Comedy (Paradise XXVI, 33-34). Treves presented the plan in the first competition for the Cathedral façade. 

The architect had imagined the façade punctuated by pillars inspired by the ones of the interior, crowned by three cusps and ornated by niches and pinnacles and a gallery with statues, as in French Gothic cathedrals. The central window and the gallery seem inspired by Leon Battista Alberti's facade of Santa Maria Novella, while the central portal recalls the tabernacle by Andrea di Cione in the Church of Orsanmichele. The cusps on the top and on the portals are decorated with mosaics depicting the same subjects as in the original medieval facade by Arnolfo. The proportions and the shape of the cusps recall the facade of the Basilica of Santa Croce by Matas (1854), largely completed at the time.

In general, the judging committee considered the three-cusps crowns solutions of French and Germanic inspiration unsuitable, including for political-ideological reasons linked to the Italian independence movements. However, in 1878 this plan won the silver medal at the international exhibition of Paris.

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