The Rucellai Sepulcher by Leon Battista Alberti

The Rucellai Sepulcher in Florence is one of the wonders that Leon Battista Alberti – mathematician, humanist, philosopher, architect, musician, writer and much more – created for the Tuscan capital city. The upper façade of Santa Maria Novella, the façade of Rucellai Palace, and the Loggia Rucellai that stands opposite the palace were also creations of this “Florentine Vitruvius” (as he was nicknamed for his extensive research on architectural theory).

Commissioned by the powerful patron of the arts Giovanni Rucellai (1403-1481), the ‘sacellum’ by the Genoa-born intellectual is a small shrine that replicates the Holy Sepulcher in the Anastasis in Jerusalem.

The Rucellai Sepulcher, built in 1467 and placed at the center of the Rucellai Chapel, inside the deconsecrated church of San Pancrazio (now home to a museum dedicated to Marino Marini), features thirty-three panels in marble from Carrara and Prato, magnificent dividing walls, and an incredible fleur-de-lis crenellation (a reference to the flower that symbolizes Florence). It is a spectacular, rectangular plan “micro-architecture”, crowned by the Latin quotation from the Gospel of Mark: “Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.”

A beauty that was hidden from view until last year – during the restoration works on the chapel – but is now open to all.

The Rucellai Sepulcher by Leon Battista Alberti

Piazza di San Pancrazio


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