Fischer von Erlach, Johann Bernhard


Karlskirche, Vienna, Austria

Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach,  (1656–1723), the leading Austrian baroque architect. After studying in Rome he returned to Vienna. In 1705 he was appointed imperial court architect. His early works, exuberant examples of the high baroque, include his redecoration of the mausoleum of Ferdinand II at Graz and the Hercules fountain in Brünn. In the Dreifaltigkeitssäule monument in Vienna he designed masses of stone to give the appearance of billows of cloud and smoke. Among his major buildings in Salzburg are the Church of the Trinity (1694–1710) and the University Church (1694–1707) and in Vienna the Hofbibliothek or Imperial Library (1722), the Imperial Palace Schönbrunn (1696–1711), and the Karlskirche or Church of San Carlo Borromeo (1715–37). He wrote A Plan of Civil and Historical Architecture (tr. 1973).

Karlskirche (St. Charles's Church) is a baroque church located on the south side of Karlsplatz in Vienna, Austria. Widely considered the most outstanding baroque church in Vienna, as well as one of the city's greatest buildings, Karlskirche is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, one of the great counter-reformers of the sixteenth century.

Located on the edge of the Innere Stadt, approximately 200 meters outside the Ringstraße, Karlskirche contains a dome in the form of an elongated ellipsoid. Since Karlsplatz was restored as an ensemble in the late 1980s, Karlskirche has garnered fame due to its dome and its two flanking columns of bas-reliefs, as well as its role as an architectural counterweight to the buildings of the Musikverein and of the Vienna University of Technology. 

In 1713, one year after the last great plague epidemic, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, pledged to build a church for his namesake patron saint, Charles Borromeo, who was revered as a healer for plague sufferers. An architectural competition was announced, in which Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach prevailed over, among others, Ferdinando Galli-Bibiena and Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. Construction began in 1716 under the supervision of Anton Erhard Martinelli. After J.B. Fischer's death in 1723, his son, Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, completed the construction in 1737 using partially altered plans. The church originally possessed a direct line of sight to the Hofburg and was also, until 1918, the imperial patron parish church.

As a creator of historic architecture, the elder Fischer von Erlach united the most diverse of elements. The façade in the center, which leads to the porch, corresponds to a Greek temple portico. The neighboring two columns, crafted by Lorenzo Mattielli, found a model in Trajan's Column in Rome. Next to those, two tower pavilions extend out and show the influence of the Roman baroque (Berniniand Borromini).

Major Architectural Work:




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