Architecture

The following is taken from August Schmarsow: Barock und Rokoko, pp.132-33. Here he discusses the second phase of the Roman Baroque, describing Vignola’s work on the Gesù, which began in 1568. Schmarsow was writing in 1897, and there is a certain lovely Gemüth to the style, which I have broken up into paragraphs.  

The church of the Florentine community in Rome probably formed the basis of the chancel, which here likewise is enclosed in a semicircle, with a square crossing before it but with short arms either side; the aisles, however, such as they are, are subordinated to the unity of the nave. Thus the nave is closer to its other precursor, the hall church Santa Maria degli Angeli, whose walls Michelangelo too had penetrated with chapels. These combine in strict subservience to the wider nave; as with the short transepts together with the crossing, there is a darker area, then here a brighter area, and the entire plan forms a closed rectangle up to the apse. 

Nevertheless in the interior, the crossing with the cupola suspended above it is set apart from the nave with its three bays tangibly enough as a central plan. The latter certainly appears, when you follow the structure from the entrance, only as a preparation for the former, but reaches through to the chancel tribune, and the structure itself remains recognisable with exemplary clarity, as awareness of the strict architecture demands. The Late Renaissance master did not discredit himself. Coupled pilasters with low plinths and composite capitals accompany the chapel openings, whose arches do not reach the architrave, but permit strong horizontal emphasis in further gallery-like mountings above them in a single section of wall, which thus functions together with the entablature. This is therefore low, but above it emerges a raised attic with mighty sculpture up to the cornice of the massive barrel vault which spans the entire space in front of the crossing. 

The barrel vault, which was conceived by Vignola as uniformly continuous, is the most important factor both for the cohesion of the broad nave which is like an ancient hall, and that of the domed structure at the end.

A visit to Meissen is not just a demonstration of how to decorate porcelain. It was once a very important city, and Dresden was its subsidiary, not the other way around. Here, one of the most important writers on architecture of the early 20th century describes the work of Arnold von Westfalen, who built the castle between 1471 and 1500:

Cornelius Gurlitt: Meißen (Burgberg) Dresden, 1920

Meißen, Albrechtsburg (p.408)

b) Central building (fig. 494 to 497)

On the ground floor the new sally port forms a division. A once narrow door, but widened during rebuilding, leads directly from the court to a downward stairway, which, however, was later moved further out. It descends 23 steps from ground floor level of the courtto the Upper Cellar, in order to reach the sally door via a downward slope. The open staircase leading down to the slope, which is now in front of the latter, is of recent origin. The door itself, however, like the vaulting over the entrance, belongs to the time of Master Arnold. The hexagonal form would have been an unlikely choice without a good reason, unless either an old tower was used or the structure of the chapel had been planned earlier. Beneath the room in front of the door is a yet smaller Lower Cellar, which has embrasures and probably served as defence of the ascent to the sally port. One has to assume that this was via a ladder.

The Great Hall (fig. 506 and 507) makes up the first floor with the two spiral staircases leading up to it and the Chapel. The Hall is 28 m long and at 12.2 m wide takes up the entire breadth of the building. Two pillars, each with four attached columns, bear wide transverse arches with the walls of the second floor resting on them, and at the same time with a third central pillar, with six attached columns (fig 508) and the rich rib vault and the richly ornamented cell vaulting. Most of the ribs have been renewed. On the walls, corresponding pillars bear the ribs. To the west are three windows with deep alcoves, and to the east two windows. The western window tracery (fig. 510) is a new addition modelled on the old east windows. Stone masons’ marks can be found on

some of the building materials. (Fig. 511). From the southern part of the Hall, doors lead westwards to the Great Spiral Staircase and along the passage to the Cathedral, eastwards to the anteroom to the chamber in front of the Hall. A thin ogee arch crowns the first door; the second door reveals the mason’s marks shown in Fig. 511. The aisle door has distorted side-walls. On it is the mason’s mark shown here: 

From the northern section a door leads to the Small Spiral Staircase to the west (Fig. 507) and a wide opening to the Chapel at the east. Two entrances break into the north wall to the Large Hofstube, whose walls were completed during restoration. They show a reasonable likeness of Arnold with a round bar (Fig. 509), while the openings to the adjoining room hold to characteristic forms.

Above this aisle is the Trumpeter’s Seat, where the balustrade is decorated with tracery on the side facing the Great Hall, while on the side of the Great Hofstube, window-like openings are inserted. It is accessible from the Small Spiral Staircase.

Fig. 507. Albrechtsburg. Great Church Hall prior to painting.

Key: Window, door and pillar are shown rotated to a parallel plane

Fig. 511: Albrechtsgurg, Great Hall, east pillar with door to the adjoining room to the east wing. Next to it, the stone masons’ marks found there.

Fig. 512: Central pillar on the south wall, with plan next to it, Fig. 516.

Fig. 513. Profile of ribs. Fig. 514. Arch of northern window alcove, profile. Fig. 515. Profile of the semi-circular arches G.

Fig. 511 to 516. Albrechtsburg. Church Hall, details.