The facade of Florence Cathedral is now one of the city’s many landmarks, but it has taken some time to get there. Work started on the facade in the late thirteenth century, but it never quite got finished and only one third was done. Delays and faffing (nothing changes) meant that it was still in a pretty similar state 300 years on, by which time the Medici family decided they didn’t like the design and pulled the facade down. They then started work on a new facade, but due to more faffing and confusion, this didn’t get completed either and by the mid-nineteenth century the cathedral was still without its frontage.
It’s a rather looking different frontage in the mid-nineteenth century to what stands today…..
So, what better way to get a facade started than by holding a design competition? They did this in 1864 and the competition was won by Emilio De Fabris in 1871, although it was a bit controversial….. Above are two paintings by Niccolò Barducci which are from 1883, the year that De Fabris died. They’re very similar, but they offer a choice between two Gothic designs, one in the cusped style and the other in the basilican style. It was the design on the right which was chosen and it was finally finished in 1887.