“Ars Sine Scientia” or rather “Ars Sine Geometria”? The Debate of 1400 on The Elevation of Milan Cathedral

Giulia Ceriani Sebregondi (1)
(1) University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy, Italy


The construction of Milan Cathedral from 1386 was one of the most important episodes in the history of Italian and European architecture because of the uniqueness of the building itself — the largest Gothic church ever constructed in Italy — and because of the presence of some of the most authoritative architects of the late Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries in Europe (Lombard, French, German).

The documentation about the discussions on how to build the Duomo in the late Trecento and early Quattrocento, especially on the structural choices to be made and the different Lombard and Northern building-site practices, made famous to English readers in a celebrated article by James Ackerman, is extraordinarily rich and extensive, permitting considerations on the relationship between medieval architectural ideals and an actual project.

The paper focuses on the famous discussions of 1400, in part a re-run of those of 1392. It will be argued that famous criticism by the French expert Jean Mignot of Milanese architects involving the terms ars and scientia could have a very different meaning from the one generally accepted in the literature. Consequently, it will result that Mignot wanted to return to the original project proposed by Gabriele Stornaloco, which embodied the desired correspondence between the sacred architecture and the perfect God’s world.

All of which, could be of some interest to medievalists in general, and to those concerned with architectural theory and with the relationship between Gothic architecture and literature in particular.

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Giulia Ceriani Sebregondi
giulia.cerianisebrego[email protected] (Primary Contact)
Sebregondi, G. C. (2019). “Ars Sine Scientia” or rather “Ars Sine Geometria”? The Debate of 1400 on The Elevation of Milan Cathedral. Resourceedings, 2(3), 65–70. https://doi.org/10.21625/resourceedings.v2i3.627

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