GERMANY AND AUSTRIA
Rococo was a refinement in miniature of the curvilinear, "elastic"
Baroque of Borromini and Guarini, and thus could be happily united with
architecture in Central Europe, where the Italian style had taken firm
root. It is not surprising that the Italian style received such a warm
response there. In Austria and southern Germany, ravaged by the Thirty Years' War, the number of
new buildings remained small until near the end of the seventeenth
century. Baroque was an imported style, practiced mainly by visiting
Italians. Not until the 1690s did native designers come to the fore.
There followed a period of intense activity that lasted more than
years and gave rise to
some of the most imaginative creations in the history of architecture.
These monuments were erected for the glorification of princes and prelates who, generally speaking, deserve to be remembered only
as lavish patrons of the arts. Rococo architecture in Central Europe is
larger in scale and more exuberant than in France. Moreover, painting
and sculpture are more closely linked with their settings. Palaces and
churches are decorated with ceiling frescoes and decorative sculpture
unsuited to domestic interiors, however lavish, although they reflect
the same taste that produced the Hotel de Varengeville.
the first great architect of the Rococo in Central
Europe, is a transitional figure linked most directly to the Italian
tradition. His design for the church of St. Charles Borromaeus in Vienna
(figs. 845 and
846) combines the facade of
Borromini's S. Agnese and the Pantheon portico (figs.
253). Here a pair of huge columns derived from
the Column of Trajan (see fig. 277)
substitutes for facade towers, which have become corner
pavilions reminiscent of those on the Louvre court (compare fig.
735). With these inflexible
elements of Roman Imperial art embedded into the elastic curvatures of
his church, Fischer von Erlach expresses, more boldly than any Italian
Baroque architect, the power of the Christian faith to absorb and
transfigure the splendors of antiquity.
Fischer von Erlach
Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, (baptized July 20, 1656,
Graz, Austria—died April 5, 1723, Vienna), Austrian
architect, sculptor, and architectural historian whose
Baroque style, a synthesis of classical, Renaissance, and
southern Baroque elements, shaped the tastes of the Habsburg
empire. Fischer’s works include the Dreifaltigkeitskirche
(1694–1702) and the Kollegienkirche (1696–1707), both in
Salzburg, and the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy
(1695–1711) in Vienna. His Entwurf einer historischen
Architektur (1721; A Plan of Civil and Historical
Architecture) was the first successful comparative study of
Early career in Italy and Austria.
The son of a provincial sculptor and turner, Fischer was
trained in his father’s workshop. He went to Rome at about
age 16 and had the good fortune to enter the studio of the
great Baroque sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
In Rome he acquired considerable knowledge of ancient art
and of the scientific methods then beginning to be used in
archaeology—methods that formed the basis for his own later
archaeological reconstructions. He also studied ancient
Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque art and architecture. About
1684 he went to Naples, then under Spanish rule, probably in
the service of the Spanish viceroy. He is reported to have
been ambitious and even to have acquired considerable
After some 16 successful years in Italy,
Fischer returned to his homeland at an opportune time; after
the imperial victories over the Turks, the Habsburg empire
was emerging as a great European power, and the Holy Roman
emperor Leopold I wished to emulate King Louis XIV of France
by representing his power as an absolute monarch visibly in
magnificent buildings. The aristocracy followed his example
by erecting splendid palaces, and the Roman Catholic clergy,
too, wanted to glorify, in ecclesiastical architecture, the
victory over the infidel as well as that over the Protestant
Reformation. Moreover, the Turks had destroyed many country
seats of the aristocracy and had severely damaged the
suburbs of Vienna during the siege of 1683. The need for new
buildings as well as the quick economic recovery following
the victories brought about a great increase in building and
a resultant flowering of art and architecture.
In 1687 Fischer embarked on a brilliant
career as court architect to three successive emperors,
Leopold I, Joseph I, and Charles VI, and also designed
buildings for the aristocracy and the archbishop of
Salzburg. In 1689 Leopold I appointed him to teach his elder
son, Joseph, perspective and the theory and history of
architecture. In 1690 Fischer won public recognition with
two temporary triumphal arches erected in Vienna to
celebrate Joseph’s entry into the city after his coronation
in Frankfurt am Main as king and future ruler of the Holy
Roman Empire. During the next 10 years, Fischer was much
sought after as an architect in Vienna and Salzburg and in
the Habsburg lands. In 1693 alone he was commissioned to
design 14 important buildings.
During these years he created a new type
of country house, combining the most important achievements
in suburban architecture since the 16th century. He united
the ideas of the French Baroque country palace made up of
many joined pavilions with that of the classically inspired
Renaissance villa, typical of Andrea Palladio, surrounded by
low detached wings. By using the powerful curving forms of
the Roman Baroque architects, especially Bernini, he gave
his villas a more dynamic form. One of their outstanding
features is the spacious oval hall in the centre of the
plan, as in Schloss Neuwaldegg (1692–97), near Vienna, and
in Schloss Engelhartstetten (c. 1693), in Lower Austria.
Fischer’s country house designs had a decisive influence on
the architects of his time. In a similar synthesis of Roman
and French Baroque seasoned with Palladian elements, he also
created a new type of town palace characterized by
impressive form, structural clarity, and the dynamic tension
of its decoration. The Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of
Savoy, begun in 1695, and the palace of the ban of Croatia,
Count Batthyány (1699–1706), both in Vienna, are notable
examples of this type.
As architect to Johann Ernst, Count von
Thun, the archbishop of Salzburg, Fischer displayed his
talent in church architecture and town planning. The domes
and towers of his churches changed the whole appearance of
Salzburg. In their exquisitely proportioned, lofty interiors
he tried to achieve a balance between the longitudinal and
central schemes, a problem all great church architects had
been faced with since Michelangelo’s projects for St.
Peter’s in Rome. All of Fischer’s churches have two-towered
facades accented by dynamic curves and elegant decoration,
but each has its own special quality, determined by its
location and by its particular function, as attached to a
seminary, a university, or a nunnery. The elegant concave
facade of the Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Church of the Holy
Trinity), for example, contrasts to and heightens the effect
of the sober front of the adjoining seminary buildings. The
almost geometric forms of the Kollegienkirche (University
Church) surmounted by the undulating forms of its towers
crown the university complex, providing a new architectural
and symbolic accent to a city dominated by its massive
cathedral, as Salzburg had been. Fischer also designed a new
facade for the archbishop’s stables and laid out a square in
front of it. He changed an old quarry into a summer riding
school and built the archbishop’s summer residence, Schloss
Klesheim (1700–09), outside Salzburg.
Foreign travels and change of style.
At the turn of the 18th century, Fischer was at the
height of his career. In a visible sign of his success as a
court architect, he was raised to the nobility in 1696. The
imperial alliance with Prussia, Holland, and England during
the War of the Spanish Succession enabled Fischer, in 1704,
to visit those countries and to study their architecture,
particularly in relation to Palladio. The result was a
remarkable change in his architectural style. In 1707 he
went to Venice to study Palladian architecture at its
source. The result was his development of a new type of
“Palladian” palace facade, classical in its proportions but
enlivened with richly sculptured decoration. It consists of
a central projection accentuated by a giant order and
surmounted by a triangular pediment and of relatively
unarticulated lateral sections. Its models were English and
North German Baroque interpretations of Palladian
architecture as well as the works of Palladio himself and of
his Italian followers. Fischer’s major achievements in this
field are the facades of the Bohemian Chancellery (1708–14)
and Trautson Palace (1710–16), both in Vienna, and of the
Clam-Gallas Palace (begun 1713), in Prague, which were
imitated by architects all over the Habsburg empire.
During the first 10 years of the 18th
century, however, Fischer designed fewer buildings than in
the years before. His time was taken up by his
administrative duties as chief inspector of court buildings
and his work on a great history of architecture, Entwurf
einer historischen Architektur. His book, which reveals the
wide range of his learning, was the first comparative
history of the architecture of all times and all nations; it
included significant specimens of Egyptian, Persian, Greek,
Roman, Muslim, Indian, and Chinese architecture, illustrated
by engravings with explanatory notes. Some of the
archaeological reconstructions that appeared in the book
were among the best of Fischer’s time. At the end of the
historical survey he placed his own achievements, which he
saw as a logical continuation of the Roman tradition of
architecture. The book was published in 1721.
When his second imperial patron, Joseph I, died in 1711,
Fischer’s position as the principal architect at the
Viennese court was no longer uncontested. Many preferred the
more pleasing and less demanding architecture of his rival
Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt to Fischer’s lofty conceptions.
Yet he was also able to gain the favour of Charles VI, to
whom he dedicated his history of architecture in manuscript
in 1712, and to obtain the commission for the building of
the Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles Borromeo; begun
Charles had vowed to build the Karlskirche
as an offering to his patron saint for the city’s
deliverance from an epidemic of the plague. In its imperial
grandeur the building Fischer conceived not only glorified
St. Charles but was also a monument to the emperor himself.
In this church he attempted to incorporate and harmonize the
main ideas contained in the most important sacred buildings
of past and present, beginning with the Temple of Jerusalem
and including the Pantheon and St. Peter’s in Rome, the
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and also the Dôme des Invalides in
Paris and St. Paul’s in London. The relatively independent
parts of the building—a pair of Roman triumphal columns, low
towers, a high oval dome, a central portico modeled after a
Roman temple facade, a transept and presbytery—are
harmonized to form a visual unity from whatever point they
are seen. The complex formal and symbolic structure of the
building is the result of its twofold function. For example,
the most striking feature of the church—the pair of giant
triumphal columns on either side of the portico—is decorated
with spiral reliefs glorifying the life of St. Charles. The
pair of columns, however, also alludes to the emperor’s
emblem, the “pillars of Hercules.”
Fischer did not live to see his
masterpiece completed, but his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer
von Erlach completed the church with some alterations.
Joseph Emanuel also completed the Imperial Stables (1719–23)
and built, according to his father’s designs, the Imperial
Library (designed 1716, built 1723–37), the interior of
which was the most imposing library hall of its time.
In a highly idealistic formal synthesis, Fischer tried
to combine the achievements of past and present, mixing
forms from ancient Roman, Renaissance, Italian Baroque, and
French Baroque architecture to find a new and unique
solution for each architectural problem. The leading
principle of his building was the integration of various
plastically conceived elements, complete in themselves, by
Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, 1695
Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, 1695
Kollegienkirche in Salzburg (1696-1707)
Even more monumental, thanks to its superb site, is the
Monastery of Melk (fig.
The buildings form a tightly knit unit that
centers on the church. It occupies the crest of a promontory above the
Danube, rising from the rock, not like a fortress but like a vision of
heavenly glory. The interior of the church (fig.
848) still reflects the plan of Il Gesu, but the
abundant illumination, the play of curves and countercurves, and the
weightless grace of the stucco sculpture give it an airy lightness far removed from the Roman Baroque. The vaults and wall surfaces seem
thin and pliable, like membranes easily punctured by the expansive power
Church, Melk, Austria. Begun
Prandtauer, Beduzzi, and Munggenast. Interior, Monastery Church, Melk. Completed ñ.
Jakob Prandtauer (baptized in Stanz bei Landeck (Tyrol)
on July 16, 1660; died in Sankt Pölten on September 16,
1726) was an Austrian Baroque architect. Trained as a
stonemason rather than as an architect, he designed and
supervised the construction of the church of Melk Abbey, in
Melk, Lower Austria. He was the uncle of Josef Munggenast,
who inherited his business and continued his style.
The architects of the next generation favored a tendency
toward lightness and elegance. The Episcopal Palace in Wiirzburg by Balthasar Neumann
includes the breathtaking Kaisersaal (fig.
849), a great oval hall decorated
in the favorite color scheme of the mid-eighteenth century: white, gold,
and pastel shades. The number and aesthetic role of structural members
such as columns, pilasters, and architraves are now minimized. Windows
and vault segments are framed by-continuous, ribbonlike moldings, and
the white surfaces are spun over with irregular ornamental designs. This
repertory of lacy, curling motifs, the hallmark of the French style (see
combined with German Rococo architecture.
849. Balthasar Neumann.
The Kaisersaal, Residenz, Wurzburg. 1719-44.
Frescoes by CIOVANNI BATTISTA TIEPOLLO, 1751
Balthasar Neumann, in full Johann Balthasar
Neumann (born 1687, Eger, Bohemia, Austrian Habsburg domain
[now Cheb, Czech Republic]—died Aug. 19, 1753, Würzburg
[Germany]), German architect who was the foremost master of
the late Baroque style.
Neumann was apprenticed to a bell-founder
and in 1711 emigrated to Würzburg, where he gained the
patronage of that city’s ruling prince-bishop, a member of
the Schönborn family, after working on military
fortifications. In 1719 Neumann began directing construction
of the first stage of the new Residenz (palace) for the
prince-bishop in Würzburg, and he was soon entrusted with
the planning and design of the entire structure. Work on the
Residenz continued at intervals after Neumann’s own death in
1753, though by the 1740s it had advanced far enough for the
painter G.B. Tiepolo to decorate the palace’s enormous
Neumann began designing other buildings as
well, starting in the 1720s with the Schönborn Chapel
(1721–36) in Würzburg Cathedral, the priory church at
Holzkirchen (1726–30) outside Würzburg, and the abbey church
at Münsterschwarzach (1727–43). He did buildings for other
members of the Schönborn family and was eventually put in
charge of all major building projects in Würzburg and
Bamberg, including palaces, public buildings, bridges, a
water system, and more than a dozen churches. Neumann
designed numerous palaces for the Schönborns, including
those for the prince-bishops at Bruchsal (1728–50) and
Werneck (c. 1733–45). In the 1740s he designed his
masterpiece, the pilgrimage church at Vierzehnheiligen
(1743–53), as well as the pilgrimage church known as the
Käppele (1740–52) near Würzburg and the abbey church at
Neumann showed himself a great master of
composition in the interiors of his churches and palaces.
The walls and columns in his buildings are diminished,
disguised, or opened up to create startling and often
playful effects while nevertheless retaining a sense of
symmetry and harmony. Neumann made ingenious use of domes
and barrel vaults to create sequences of round and oval
spaces whose light, airy elegance is highlighted by the
daylight streaming in through huge windows. The free and
lively interplay of these elements is accented by a lavish
use of decorative plasterwork, gilding, and statuary and by
wall and ceiling murals.
Interior of the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers
Neumann's Wurzburg Residence and the beginnings of its Court Gardens.
A contemporary of Balthasar Neumann, Dominikus Zimmermann
(1685-1766), created what
may be the finest spatial design of the mid-eighteenth century, the
Bavarian pilgrimage church nicknamed "Die Wies" (figs.
851). The exterior is so plain that its interior
richness seems truly overwhelming. Like the Kaisersaal, its shape is
oval, but since the ceiling rests on paired, free-standing supports, the
spatial configuration is more fluid and complex. As a result, we are
reminded of a German Gothic Hallenkirche (see fig.
473), despite the playful Rococo
decor. Guarini's prophetic revaluation of Gothic architecture has here
Pilgrimage Church in Steinhausen
850. Dominikus Zimmermann. Interior,
Die Wies, Upper Bavaria.
Plan of Die Wies
Dominikus Zimmermann, (born June 30, 1685, Gaispoint, near
Wessobrunn, Bavaria [Germany]—died Nov. 16, 1766, Wies),
Bavarian Baroque architect and stuccoist whose church at
Wies (now in Baden-Württemberg) is considered one of the
finest accomplishments of Baroque architecture.
Zimmermann was taught
stucco work by Johann Schmutzer and initially worked as a
stuccoist. His earliest independent building design is the
Dominican convent church at Mödingen (1716–21), in which he
was aided by his brother Johann Baptist Zimmermann
(1680–1758), a notable Bavarian court stuccoist and a fresco
A considerable portion of
Zimmermann’s career was spent in the building of two
Gesamtkunstwerke (“total art works”) for which he and his
brother designed and executed nearly every aspect of
construction and decoration. Both are pilgrimage churches.
The first, in Steinhausen, was begun in 1727. The floor plan
is an oval, with 10 slender, free-standing piers supporting
a vault painted in exemplary style by Zimmermann’s brother.
This structure has been regarded by some as the first truly
Rococo church because of its light, airy structure and its
delicately coloured, flowing, undulating decorations in
coloured stucco and painted frescoes.
The second church, at Wies
(1746–54), has a rather drab and demure exterior but an even
richer interior. The plan is again oval, with eight piers
supporting a sumptuous entablature and vault, decorated this
time with unmistakably Rococo motifs and a delicate ceiling
fresco by Johann Baptist. The interior is remarkable for the
rich colour harmonies and the swirling, controlled movement
of its decoration, which obliterates the previously clearly
demarcated zones of pillar, capital, entablature, and vault.
Upon his retirement in
1752, Zimmermann chose the town of Wies as his home.