- Christoph Luitpold Frommel
[Francesco del Cereo di Borgo San Sepolcro]
(b Borgo San Sepolcro, Tuscany; d Rome, 1468).
Italian architect, illuminator and papal functionary. He is first mentioned in 1450 as a member of the financial staff of the Apostolic Chamber and of the secret treasury of Nicholas V, and he rose quickly through the levels of the financial bureaucracy at the papal court. He is known to have illustrated manuscripts of Latin translations of Archimedes, Euclid, Ptolemy and Muhammad al-Qazwini [Kazwini], some of which were decorated at his behest in 1457–8. Mixing in humanist circles at the court, Francesco may have been taught architecture and engineering by Leon Battista Alberti.
Alberti may also have recommended Francesco to Pius II, who commissioned him to design the benediction loggia in front of St Peter’s and the reshaping of the Piazza S Pietro. Francesco planned to replace the temporary wooden pulpit in front of the old atrium, from which the earlier popes had blessed the crowd, by a two-storey marble loggia of eleven bays. Its elevation recalled the exterior of Roman theatres. Instead of half columns, however, antique marble shafts articulated the arcades. It was the first faithful imitation of Roman Imperial architecture and the first forum building ...