We are all familiar with the narrative of Italian Renaissance architecture: Filippo Brunelleschi produced a series of technically and stylistically innovative structures in Florence in the first half of the fifteenth century that are taken as the starting point of a new kind of architecture. This foundation gave way to Leon Battista Alberti’s buildings and writings in the next generation, then in turn to Giuliano da Sangallo, Donato Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Vignola, and Palladio. Other architects are usually included, as are excursions to Urbino, Milan, Mantua, and Venice. This progression has served as the spine of a series of important surveys by Peter Murray, Ludwig Heinrich Heydenreich and Wolfgang Lotz, and Christoph Luitpold Frommel, which has introduced two generations of undergraduate students to Renaissance architecture, forming their view of the material.1

In Anglophone architectural history, this account of Italian Renaissance architecture has often represented the development of building in...

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