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RENAISSANCE ARCHITECTURE IN

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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 421 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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RENAISSANCE ARCHITECTURE IN GERMANY The classical revival does not seem to have taken root in Germany much before the middle of the 16th century, some forty to fifty years later than in France, from which country it is said to have been introduced, and in some of the early work there is a great similarity to French examples, but without the refinement and variety of detail which one finds in the chateaux of the Loire and in many of the French towns. In the rood-screen of the cathedral at Hildesheim (1546), the court of the town hall at Gorlitz (134), the portal of the Petershof at Halberstadt (1552), and the entrance gateway of the castle at Brieg (1553), one is able to recognize certain ornamental details and a similar superposition of pilasters in several storeys to that which is found in various towns in Normandy and on the Loire. In both countries the new style was engrafted on the last phase of the Gothic period, so forming at first a transitional style, which lasted about fifty years. Thus the lofty roofs which prevailed in the 15th century are developed further, but with this great divergence in the two countries. In France there are rarely gable ends, in Germany they are not only the chief characteristic feature of the main front, but are introduced in the side elevations in the shape of immense dormers with two or three storeys and rising the full height of the roof, as in the castle at Hamelschenburg near Hameln. Throughout Germany, therefore, the gable end and the dormer gable became the chief features on which they lavished all their ornamental designs, the main walls of the building being as a rule either in plain masonry, rubble masonry with stucco facing, or brick and stone. Other prominent features are the octagonal and circular oriel windows rising through two or three storeys at the corners of their buildings—rectangular bow windows in two or three storeys, which were allowed apparently to encroach on the pavement, and octagonal turrets or towers instead of circular as in. France. In the vicinity of the Harz mountains, where timber was plentiful, a large proportion of the factories, houses and even public buildings, are erected in half-timber work with elaborate carving of the door and window jambs, projecting corbels, &c. At Hildesheim, Wernigerode, Goslar, &c., these structures are sometimes of immense size and richly decorated. Among early examples in stone, the porch added to the town hall of Cologne (1571), the projecting wings of the town halls at Halberstadt and Lemgo (1565), and the town halls at Posen (1550), Altenburg (1562–1567) and Rothenburg (1572–1590), are all picturesque examples more or less refined in design. In the last-named example the purer Italian style has exercised its influence in the principal doorway and in the arcaded gallery on the east front. This same influence shows itself in the courtyard of the town hall at Nuremberg, where the arcades of the two upper storeys might be taken for those of the courts of the palaces at Rome. Amongst other 16th-century work there are two entrance gates at Danzig, the Hohe Tor (1588), a fine massive structure, and the Langgasse Tor (1600), more or less pure Italian in style. At Augsburg, the arsenal (1603–1607), by the architect Elias Hoff (1573–1646), is of a bold and original design, and the town hall has magnificent ceilings and wainscotting round the walls of the principal halls. This brings us to the castle of Heidelberg (Plate VII., figs. 78, 79 and 8o), which is looked upon by the Germans as the chef d'oeuvre of the Renaissance in Germany. As seen from the great court it forms an interesting study, there being the work of three periods: in the centre the picturesque group of the older building (c. 1525), on the right the Otto-Heinrichs-Bau (1556-1559), and on the left the Friedrichs-Bau (1602–1607). Of the two the latter is the finer. The architect of the Otto-Heinrichs-Bau would seem to have been undecided whether to give greater prominence and projection to his pilasters and cornices or to his windows with their dressings and pediments, so he has compromised the matter by making them both about th'e same, and the effect is most monotonous. In the Friedrichs-Bau, which is a remarkable work, the pilasters are of great projection, with bold cornices and simple windows well set back, while the tracery of the ground-floor windows is a pleasant relief from the constant repetition of pilaster window dressings. The gables also of the Friedrichs-Bau break the horizontal sky-line agreeably. A more minute examination of the decorative details, however, betrays the advent of a peculiar rococo style of a most debased type, which throughout the 17th century spread through Germany, and the repetition of the same details suggests that it was copied from some of the pattern books which were published towards the end of the 16th century, comprising heterogeneous designs for title pages, door heads, frontispieces, and even extending to new versions of the orders, which apparently appealed to the German mason and saved him the trouble of invention. These books, compiled by de Vries and Dietterlin, emanated from the Low Countries, and their influence extended to England during the Elizabethan period. At all events in Germany it would seem to have arrested the purer Italian work, which we have already noticed, and hence-forth in the gable ends one finds the most extraordinary accumulation of distorted forms which, though sometimes picturesque, disfigure the German work of the 17th century. An exception might perhaps be made in favour of the Peller'sche Haus in Nurem-berg (1625), one of the best houses of modest dimensions in Germany. The facade in the Aegidien-Platz is a fine composition; inside is a very picturesque court and staircase, and the painted ceiling and the wainscotting of one of the rooms in woods of different colours, though not very pure in style, are of excellent design and execution. Some of the most characteristic work of this type exists at Hameln, where the facades of the Rattenfangerhaus (1602), the Hochzeitshaus (1610), and many other buildings, are covered with the most extra-ordinary devices, leaving scarcely a foot of plain masonry as a relief. The south front of the town hall of Bremen (1612) is in the same style (Plate IV., fig. 70), relieved, however, by the fine large windows of the great hall and the arcade in front, in which there is some picturesque detail. Later in the century the degradation increases until it reaches its climax in the Zwinger palace at Dresden (1711), the most terrible rococo work ever conceived, if we except some of the Churrigueresque work in Spain. Among the most pleasing features in Germany are the fountains which abound in every town; of these there are good examples at Tubingen, Prague, Hildesheim, Ulm, Nuremberg, already famed for its Gothic fountains, Mainz and Rothenburg. In the latter town, built on an eminence, they are of great importance for the supply of the town, and some of them are extremely picturesque and of good design. Up to the present we have said nothing about the ecclesiastical buildings in Germany, for the reason that the period between the Reformation and the conclusion of the Thirty Years' War was not favourable to church building. The only example worth mentioning is the church of St Michael at Munich (1583–1597), and that more for its plan than for its architecture. It has a wide nave covered with a barrel vault, and a series of chapels forming semicircular recesses on each side, the walls between acting as buttresses to the great vault. The transept is not deep enough to have any architectural value, but if at the east end there had been only an apse it would have been a better termination than the long choir. The Liebfrauenkirche at Dresden (1726–1745) has a good plan, but internally is arranged like a theatre with pit, tiers of boxes, and a gallery, all in the worst possible taste, and externally the dome is far too high and destroys the scale of the lower part of the church. An elliptical dome is never a pleasing object, and in the church of St Charles Borromeo, at Vienna, there are no other features to redeem its ugliness. The Marienkirche at Wolfenbuttel (1608–1622) has a fine Italian portal ; its side elevation is spoilt by the series of gable dormers, which are of no possible use, as the church (of the Hallenkirchen type) is well lighted through the aisle windows. The portal of the Schlosskapelle (1555) at Dresden is a fine work in the Italian style; and lastly the church at Buckeburg, in a late debased style, is redeemed only by the fact that it is built in fine masonry and that the joints run through all the rococo details. (R. P. S.)
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