Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wenceslas Cobergher

Wencelas Cobergher

Considered one of the fathers of Flemish Baroque architecture, Wencelas, also known as Wenzel, did not only succeed in the architectural field. As a true Renaissance man, he was learned and practiced in various other fields as an economist, antiquarian (a student of things associated with the past), numismatist (studying the collection of money), painter, and engineer. Apparently, he is loosely deemed as a chemist who was active in the production of soap and dye. Cobergher was born in Antwerp, Belgium as the bastard son of Catherine Reams. Later, he would study as a painter under Maarten de Vos where, rumor has it, he fell in an unrequited love with his master's daughter. 

As an architect, he would begin his career in Italy where he would catch the attention of Archduke Albert and Infanta Isabella, governors of Southern Netherlands. Three years after his invitation to Brussels, he would be appointed architect-engineer by the archdukes. His Italian influences can be seen throughout his works with multiple references to two churches in Rome: Il Gesu and Santa Maria in Transpontina. 

His most notable work is located in Scherpenheuvel, Belgium. The Basiliek van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw (Basilica of Our Lady) alludes to the facade and interior of Il Gesu with its large volutes, broken pediments, pilasters, cartouches, niches, and aediculas. Built in 1616, its entrance pays homage to Palladio's Serlian window. Reason for the structure's location comes from a miracle story pertaining to an ancient statue of Mary being displaced and a shepherd who tried to fix it only to be frozen in his place. The layout is based on a seven-pointed star and would later become a prominent pilgrimage site. 

Class notes

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