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Donato Bramante

Donato Bramante (1444 – March 11, 1514), Italian architect, who introduced the Early Renaissance style to Milan and the High Renaissance style to Rome, where his most famous design was St. Peter’s Basilica.

Bramante was born in a very small place near Urbino, where in the 1460s Francesco Laurana was adding to Federico da Montefeltro’s ducal palace an arcaded courtyard and other features that seemed to have the true ring of a reborn Antiquity.

Bramante’s architecture has eclipsed his painting skills: he well knew the painters Melozzo da Forlì and Piero della Francesca, who were interested in the rules of perspective and illusionistic features in Mantegna’s painting. About 1474 Bramante moved to Milan, a city with a deep Gothic architectural tradition at the time, and built several churches in the new Antique taste. The Duke, Ludovico Sforza, made him virtually his court architect, beginning in 1476, in commissions that culminated with rebuilding the choir of the church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro (1482-1486). Space was limited, and Bramante made a theatrical apse in bas-relief, combining the painterly arts of perspective with Roman details. There is an octagonal sacristy, surmounted by a dome. As at Brunelleschi‘s Pazzi Chapel Renaissance architecture was born at Florence, so at Bramante’s Santa Maria presso San Satiro the Renaissance arrived in Lombardy.

In Milan Bramante also built Santa Maria delle Grazie (1492-99); other early works include the cloisters of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan (1497-1498), and some other smaller constructions in Pavia and Legnano; however, in 1499, with his Sforza patron driven from Milan by an invading army of the French, Bramante made his way to Rome, where he was already known to the powerful Cardinal Riario.

In Rome he was soon recognized by Cardinal Della Rovere, soon to become Pope Julius II.

For Julius, almost as if it were a trial piece on approval, Bramante designed one of the most harmonious buildings of the Renaissance: the Tempietto (1502, possibly later) of San Pietro in Montorio on the Janiculum. Despite its small scale the construction has all the rigorous proportions and symmetry of Classical structures, surrounded by slender Doric columns and surmounted by a dome. Bramante planned to set it within a colonnaded courtyard to complete the scenery, but larger plans were afoot. Within a year of its completion, in November 1503, Julius engaged Bramante on the construction of the grandest architectural commission of the European 16th century, the complete rebuilding of St Peter’s Basilica. The cornerstone of the first of the great piers of the crossing was laid with ceremony on April 18, 1506. Many drawings by Bramante survive, and many more by assistants, which show the extent of the team that had been assembled. Bramante’s vision for St Peter’s, a centralized Greek cross plan that symbolized sublime perfection for him and his generation (compare Santa Maria della Consolazione, Todi, influenced by Bramante’s work) was fundamentally altered by the extension of the nave after his death in 1514. Bramante’s plan envisaged four great chapels filling the corner spaces between the equal transepts, each one capped with a smaller dome surrounding the great dome over the crossing. So Bramante’s original plan was very much more Romano-Byzantine in its forms than the basilica that was actually built.

Occupied with St Peter’s, Bramante had little time for other commissions. One of his earliest works in Rome, before the Basilica’s construction got under way, are the cloisters (1504) of Santa Maria della Pace near Piazza Navona. The handsome proportions give an air of great simplicity. The columns on the ground floor are complemented by those on the first floor, which alternate with smaller columns placed centrally over the lower arches. Bramante is also famous for his revolutionary palazzo design for the Palazzo Caprini in Rome. This palazzo was later owned by the artist Raphael and since has been known as the House of Raphael.

A touch of “Swan Song” and a dash of “The Stand”…Very good post-apocalyptic tale in the mode and mood of R. McCammon’s “Swan Song” and S. King’s “The Stand”. ★★★★★

Excerpt from Troop of Shadows:

Prologue
Colleyville, Texas
October

Dani cursed the weight of her backpack. The final two items from the ransacked Walgreens, crammed in as an afterthought ten minutes ago, might cost her everything. After surviving the last twelve months of hell only to be thwarted now by a can of Similac and a twelve-pack of Zest soap, would be sadly anticlimactic. Despite running at a full sprint down a dark suburban street, dodging overflowing garbage cans while eluding three men who would steal her hard-won tubes of Neosporin and likely rape and kill her in the process, she snorted at the thought of a fictional headline: Young Woman’s Life Ends Tragically but Zestfully Clean.

Damn it, she would ditch the backpack. She could come back tomorrow night for it, but right now staying alive outweighed any future benefit its contents might provide. As her pursuers rounded the corner behind her, she darted across the front lawn of a house and leaped over a cluster of dead juniper shrubs. A year ago, those shrubs had been green, manicured, and providing curb appeal to the upscale neighborhood; they functioned now as a hurdle component in the obstacle course Dani navigated on most nights.

She angled toward the side of the house and around the corner, only to come to an abrupt stop next to a six-foot barricade. Residents of these sprawling bedroom communities situated between Dallas and Fort Worth clung to their privacy fences as fiercely as their rural counterparts did to their firearms. Why all those day-trading dads and cheerleader moms required such secrecy was beyond Dani. She didn’t care. All that mattered was how difficult they made her nightly forages. Only idiots or people with a death wish traveled alone on the streets anymore. The clever ones navigated through backyards and drainage ditches, shadowed easements and alleyway, avoiding open spaces and other humans.

Especially humans traveling in groups.

Stealth and caution were second nature to her now, and she was pissed at herself for loading up the backpack with more weight than she could easily carry at a full run.

Rookie mistake.

She flung the pack into the undergrowth of a once meticulous garden, making a mental note of the enormous red tip photinia which camouflaged the bundle in a leafy shroud. She hoped to be alive the next day to retrieve it.

She clambered up the fence, finding a toehold on a warped plank, and squirmed over the top. A silver fingernail of a moon did little to illuminate the backyard. Weak starlight reflected off the inky surface of a half-empty, kidney-shaped swimming pool. Her Nikes gripped the concrete deck as she skirted the murky water and made a beeline for the back of the yard that was, of course, separated from its neighbor by a privacy fence. It was a tall one too — a full ten feet. There were no bushes or trees to use for leverage either. She scanned the area for anything that might serve as a step ladder.

Of all the yards she could have chosen for her escape, she’d picked one with a damn ten-foot fence.

Her heart raced from the sprint, but not from panic. Gone was the young woman from a year ago, the full-time floundering college dropout and part-time surly Starbucks barista who spent too much time reading books and not enough time looking for a job that would allow her to move out of her parents’ house. She was too smart for her own good, everyone had told her. She should have taken that secretarial position in North Dallas, but she would have lost her sanity in that environment. The tedious filing, the ringing phones, the office politics — in other words, hell on earth for a girl with an IQ over a hundred and fifty.

Despite the recent horrors, she’d come into her own at last, after twenty-one years of meandering through life unfocused and unchallenged. The extra twenty pounds she’d been carrying courtesy of Freddy’s cheeseburgers and Taco Bell burritos were gone, thanks to her newfound self-discipline and endless hours of Krav Maga training with Sam. Not only had she transformed her body, she’d elevated and strengthened her mind as well. Before the power had gone out, she’d watched countless tutorials on T’ai Chi, Qigong, and Buddhist meditation. During that same window — when people were beginning to get sick, but before most of them had died — she’d combed book stores and libraries within a fifteen-mile radius. When the country went dark and people realized that life-saving information was no longer available with a few keystrokes, Dani had amassed reference material on subjects as diverse as hydroponics and combat first aid, ancient meat drying techniques and bomb making. Between martial arts lessons with Sam, she spent every spare minute absorbing the printed esoteric knowledge like a greedy lizard on a sun-drenched rock.

Knowledge was survival.

When the first of the men slithered over the fence into the backyard, she hadn’t found anything to use as a foothold. Another figure followed behind him. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and released it from her lungs, slow and measured, then took off at a full run toward them. While she ran, fingers slid down to a leather sheath secured to her belt. Two seconds before she reached the first of her would-be assailants, a Ka-Bar — the grandaddy of tactical knives — was in her hand.

Dani used momentum and every ounce of her one-hundred-twenty pound frame to slam the first man into the second, knocking both assailants off-balance and unprepared for her next move: a vicious stab to the groin of the first. He collapsed to his knees. She followed with a backhand movement, opening up the throat of his companion. A similar gesture to the man with the injured groin silenced his moaning.

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