In St. Andrea at Mantua the use of pilasters instead of columns, and the absence of ressauts in the great order, as well as the substitution of a pediment for the attic, make a great difference in the general character of the design; and yet the triumphal arch idea is even more strongly marked in this case, because it is not confined to the mere facade but extends to the form of the whole porch. The great barrel-vaulted recess is an exact reproduction of the central passageway of the Roman arch, and so are the lesser arches which open out of this recess on either side.
The triumphal arch idea applied to church fronts appears to be peculiar to Alberti. Most other architects among his contemporaries and immediate successors limit themselves to an application of the orders variously proportioned and disposed. In some cases the mediaeval scheme of buttresses dividing the front into bays is retained, and this scheme is enriched with pilasters, or columns, and mouldings of classic profiling, as in the facade of the Duomo of Pienza by the Florentine architect Rossellino. In the later Renaissance facades, as we shall see, there is frequently no organic division of the whole front into bays by continuous members embracing its whole height, but superimposed pilasters and entablatures are variously disposed upon the surface without any suggestion, in the composition as a whole, of the triumphal arch idea (as in Vignola's fronts, Figs. 49 and 50). But in the characteristic Palladian scheme an organic division is formed by a great order of columns reaching to the top of the nave compartment, and overlapping a smaller order of pilasters extending across the whole front as in Figure 54.
The foregoing examples are enough to illustrate the character of Florentine church architecture, and that which was wrought elsewhere under Florentine influence, in the fifteenth century. These examples show us that the designers, while ostensibly striving to revive the antique forms, were in reality working more or less unconsciously on a foundation of mediaeval ideas from which they could not free themselves. The inconsistencies of their work are largely due to the irreconcilable nature of the elements which they sought to unite, not appreciating the logic of mediaeval art on the one hand, nor the true principles of the best art of antiquity on the other. The classic orders were entirely unsuited to the buildings to which they affixed them. They properly belong to a very different type of architecture which had been developed by the Greeks in ancient times, and the Greeks alone have used them with propriety. The Romans misapplied and deformed them, and the Italians of the Renaissance now surpassed the Romans in their misapplication and distortion. Many further illustrations of this will appear as we go on.
Early in the sixteenth century this architecture began to assume another phase in which the mediaeval elements became less conspicuous, though they were not eliminated, and the imperial Roman features were more rigorously reproduced, yet they were never used with strict conformity to ancient models. This phase of the art was inaugurated by the architect Bramante after his settlement in Rome. We shall consider the Roman work of Bramante, in the following chapter.