Fischer von Erlach – Viennese court architect – 1656.

Fischer von Erlach – Viennese court architect – 1656.

The Austrian sculptor and architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was born in Graz in 1656. He learned the sculptural craft in his father’s workshop. At the age of 16 he went to Rome, where he was educated by the famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini. There he had the opportunity to get to know the architecture that fascinated him, so since 1688 he has been working only as an architect. He worked for the King of Spain in Naples. He then returned to Graz and worked on the mausoleum of Friedrich II. He later went to Vienna, where he taught Crown Prince Joseph. For his coronation he made a blueprint for the triumphal arch.

The imperial family liked his work very much, so his next task was to come up with a completely new concept of Schönbrunn Castle. Due to many subsequent alterations, almost nothing is left of his visionary concept. As an architect he also worked on blueprints for the city palaces of the eminent Strattmann iBatthyány families. He then built five churches in the Archdiocese of Salzburg and began renovating the city palace of Prince Eugene. He eventually lost that job.

Fischer von Erlach was an excellent draftsman and made quality copper engravings like the Seven Wonders of the World. His most important work is the church of St. Charles Borromeo in Vienna, overlooking the Hofburg. It is interesting because it encompasses a variety of styles, from Trajan’s Pillars to contemporary style. He died in 1723 without completing the church of St. Karla.

As a court architect, he made plans for the court stables and the court library. He is considered one of the best Baroque architects. His works are monumental, the decorations are simpler, and the style leans slightly towards the features of the next period – classicism.

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