Fischer von Erlach, Johann Bernhard#
b. Graz (Styria), July 20, 1656, d. Vienna, April 5, 1723, the first important architect of the Austrian Baroque; called himself "von Erlach" after his mother's first husband, Sebastian Erlacher; father of Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach. At first F. v. E. worked as a sculptor with his father Johann Bapt. F. in Graz. In 1670 went to Rome, where he got to know G. L. Bernini and the theorist P. Bellori and where he studied F. Borromini's architectural works. In 1684 went to Naples and returned to Austria in 1686, where he launched a number of important projects, including: the Vienna Trinity Column ("Pestsaeule" - "Plague Column"), alterations to the interior design of the mausoleums in Ehrenhausen and in Graz, designs for portals, vases, altars, fountains and triumphal arches. The Hall of the Ancestors (1688) at Frain Palace (Vranov near Znojmo/Znaim, Czech Republic) is considered his first masterpiece. From 1689 taught architecture to Prince Joseph of Habsburg, (later Emperor Joseph I), and from 1693 worked for the Archbishop of Salzburg. In 1694 appointed imperial court architect and court engineer in Vienna. Since he did not receive further orders in Austria, he travelled to the Prussian court in 1704. From there he went on to Holland and England. During this period he analysed the architectural style of Western European classicism. After Joseph I had ascended to the throne in 1705, F. v. E. was appointed inspector of court buildings and thus in charge of all architectural activities on behalf of the Imperial Court. In 1712 was confirmed in his offices by Karl VI, who succeeded Joseph I.
First and foremost, F. v. E. was a master of spatial design. Unlike J. L. v. Hildebrandt, who was younger than F. v. E., he gradually attached less importance to splendid decorative elements and focused on elements of Early Classicism. These elements appear esp. in the cubic design of his buildings and in the harmonious and strict form of his façades. He tried to achieve a balance between the longitudinal and central schemes. Sculptural, powerful curvilinear forms were combined with a clear ground-plan and spacious structures. This truly Austrian productive synthesis led to the establishment of an individual style, which incorporated and harmonized all the classical varieties of European architecture. Furthermore, F. v. E. showed interest in the history of architecture and wrote "Entwurf einer Historischen Architektur" in 1721, a book illustrated by engravings, which represents a first universal history of architecture. On account of its political function F. v. E.'s architectural work was considered a model for other architects, and an expression of the strengthened self-confidence of the Habsburg monarchy.
His principal works include the Kollegienkirche in Salzburg, and the Karlskirche, the winter palace of Prince Eugène (today's Ministry of Finance), the Bohemian Court Chancellery and Trautson Palace in Vienna. Some of his buildings in Vienna were completed by his son Joseph Emanuel (Karlskirche, Imperial Library). His first plans of Schoenbrunn Palace were not realized (1690/1691). The second plan, according to which the project was carried out, was drawn up around 1695. monument to F. v. E. on Rathausplatz in Vienna.
Works#Styria: alterations to the mausoleums in Ehrenhausen (alterations to the interior design, 1690) and in Graz (stucco, 1687-1699), Mariazell (high altar, 1692-1704), Strassengel (high altar, designed around 1687). - Salzburg: Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Holy Trinity Church, 1694-1702), Johannesspitalskirche (1699-1703), Kollegienkirche (1696-1707), Ursulinenkirche, 1699-1705), high altar of the Franziskanerkirche (1708), portal of the Hofmarstall (stables, 1694), Klessheim Palace (from 1700); Pilgrimage Church in Kirchental near Lofer (1694-1701). - Vienna: summer-house for Count Schlick (1692), winter palace of Prince Eugène (1695-1697), Bohemian Court Chancellery (1708-1714, 1750-1754 expansion by M. Gerl), Karlskirche (1716-1723, completed by his son from 1723-1739), Imperial Stables (from 1723 according to his plans), Liechtenstein Palace (side portal 1705, attic), Lobkowitz Palace (1709-1711 alterations), plans for the Imperial Library (project carried out by his son, 1723-1726) and Schoenborn-Batthyány Palace (1692-1693); Schoenbrunn Palace (2nd project around 1695, later redesigned and completed by N. Pacassi), Schwarzenberg Palace (completed in 1720-1722, interior design carried out by his son), Trautson Palace (1710-12), plague column at the Graben (base reliefs, 1687). - In the provinces: Niederweiden (hunting lodge in Engelhartsstetten, Lower Austria, from 1693), Perchtoldsdorf (base reliefs of the plague column, 1713).
Literature#H. Sedlmayr, J. B. F. v. E., 1976 (new edition ed. by G. Curcio, 1997); A. Kreul, Die Barockbaumeister F. v. E., 1988; H. Lorenz, J. B. F. v. E., 1992; F. Polleross, F. v. E. und die Wr. Barocktradition, 1995.