Friday, October 25, 2013


Project Name: Hofbibliotek (Imperial Library)
Architect: Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach
Location: Hofburg, Vienna, Austria
Designed: 1716-20
Built 1723-26

The Hofbibliotek was designed as a new wing to the existing Hofburg Palace for Charles VI. Its central oval rotunda and two-story bookshelves serve to show the emperor as a promoter of the sciences and arts. Many people criticized it because they thought it was more of a show of wealth rather than an actual symbol of knowledge and learning. The large barrel vaults are separated with columns flanking either side of the walls to designate the different galleries.

Previously one of the largest libraries in the world, it holds a collection comprised of about 7.5 million books. The ceiling is adorned with trompe-l'oeil frescos with a seemingly coffered ribbing effect lining each start of a barrel vault. Each marble column holding the cornice under the barrel vault is topped with a Corinthian order capital while the tapered pilasters under the second floor slab are covered with a composite capital. Curved volutes are seen throughout the library underneath the second story as a decorative element that appears to be structural. Elements from the Rococo are leaked into the library through various shell forms that adorn the pilasters under the capitals and on the ceiling frescos. 

A heavy cornice lines the top of the second story underneath the barrel vaults. An illusory cornice is almost implied above the first level since the second floor slab edge is designed to mimic that of a regular cornice. Other elements from the Rococo that are seen inside the library are located within the large ceiling fresco that implies depth without actually having any; in the initial glance, it's easy to mistake the fresco for built-in cornices, marble ceilings, or high reliefs when they are actually just two-dimensional. It's easy to say that the emperor felt that in order to hold an impressive collection of books, the library itself also had to be impressive. 

Baroque and Rococo Art and Architecture by Robert Neuman

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Palace of Versailles

The site of the famous Palace of Versailles was once the site of Louis XIII’s hunting ground. The town that would grow around the Palace was little more than a village. Louis XIII built a hunting lodge on this site in 1623.

Louis XIV had the lodge renovated when he took over as king. Louis Le Vau made alterations to the building, then called Petit Chateau. The marble courtyard that is the entry of the building has survived to this day. He used red bricks as the main building material, similar to the facade of the Place Royale. In time, Louis XIV sought more space. He surrounded Petit Chateau on three sides facing westward. In 1682, when the royal family moved here permanently even more additions were desired. Architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart replaced the once terrace that faced the gardens with the hall of mirrors. And supplied a north and south wing to the building. The garden façade is composed of white stone, as opposed to the red brick of the opposing front façade. The Royal Chapel was one of the king’s last additions to the Palace in 1710.

The king’s favorite place on the estate was the garden, with a symmetrical design and 14,000 fountains. The fountains are fed by water pipes underground, the original system is still in use.


Baroque and Rococo Art and Architecture, by Robert Neuman

Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Through its architecture, painting, sculpture and landscape, Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a complete representation of French baroque. The head designers of the Chateau later on also collaborated on the design of the Palace of Versailles.  Achitect, Louis Le Vau and interior and landscape designers Charles Le Brun and Andre Le Notre. The patron, Nicholas Fouquet purchased the estate in 1641. It is located southeast of Paris, France.

 The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte is organized on a longitudinal axis, making the gardens seem as if they disappear. The raised terraces on both sides of the courtyard represent the old winged-chateau tradition. The building is composed of cream-colored limestone, which creates a dramatic contrast as it rises over the murky moat. The court facade has curved walls at the center of the building can be related to many Roman Baroque buildings. The court façade is much different than the garden facing façade. The garden facade has an ovular shape in the center of the façade a curved dome greatly contrasts the high pitched roofs that flank either side

A visitor would enter through the vestibule, and pushed into the oval salon a l italienne which is a vaulted two story void. Here you would normally find receptions, grand dinners, and other social events. One of the most famous parties in history was at this site. Louis XIV, age 23, visited this site in 1661 where they enjoyed an extravagant meal, a theatrical performance and to top it all of there were fireworks at midnight. 

Baroque and Rococo Art and Architecture, by Robert Neuman

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

History Of French Baroque

During the 17th Century there were Three monarchs who ruled France and were involved in architecture during the century:

Henri IV (1589-1610)
Louis XIII (1610-1643)
Louis XIV (1643-1715)

    All of which were great patrons to the arts in the baroque era. In the architecture of the French Baroque the building should conform the social status and wealth of the patron.

      The most important notion for the principle of the architecture during this era is representational which projected beliefs and aspirations of contemporary society. The french architect did respected the ancient principles of decorum which included the exterior elevations, location of rooms, choice of materials and decorations of interiors. The Art of Planning was considered the most essential element and this contained three major headings, Ecclesiastical edifices, Public building and Private dwellings.

      Palace of Versailles, architect Louis Le Vau, Paris, France, 1624-1669

      Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, Louis Le Vau, Maincy, 1658 to 1661

      Additional Information:

      The Fugue

      The Fugue became central to the composition in the baroque music. Being able to compose such pieces displayed the expertise of composers. During this period there was also a increase in music theory, which allowed the musicians to design fugues to teach contrapuntal technique to students. 
      A fugue usually has three sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation containing the return of the subject in the fugue's tonic key, which is a three note tone. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Johann Jakob Froberger and Dieterich Buxtehude all wrote fugues, and George Frideric Handel included them in many of his oratorios. The fugue impacted the baroque music that when the baroque musical movement ended, the form followed into the classical era. 

      Johann Sebastian Bach used this musical form in the famous Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (although which has a fugal opening section to its first movement.

      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

      Monday, October 21, 2013

      The Churrigueresque Style

      The churrigueresque, refers to a style of the Spanish Baroque that consisted of elaborate sculptural architectural ornament. It was developed as stucco ornamentation in the late 17th century. Some of the main elements categorized to the churrigueresque were florid decorative detailing, stucco shells and garlands.

      Casa del Prado in Balboa Park

      Although the style was named after the sculptor Jose Benito de Churriguera, who worked mainly in Madrid and Salamanca, the origins of the style are said to go back to Alonzo Cano, the architect and sculptor born in Granada.

      Alonzo Cano

       From 1680-1720, the style went through a development phase where the use of the Guarino Guarini's mix of Solomonic columns and the composite order were popularized. In the second phase of development, the estipite became an established form of ornament of the Churrigueresque style. The estipite is and inverted column that tapers down. The style eventually shifted interest from twisted movement and excessive ornamentation.

      Estipite Column


      The Portuguese Azulejo

      Azulejo, or glazed, usually blue, ceramic tile, became a typical feature in Portuguese culture. These tiles are found on many types of surfaces including the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, railway stations or even ordinary houses. It is a major distinguishing factor of Portuguese architecture used not only as ornamental art form but also had functional use like temperature control in some homes.

      These azulejos became an important feature in the Portuguese baroque period. The tiles were produced using the majolica technique. The ceramic piece is covered with and opaque white glaze, painted with color pigment, then fired or glazed.

      video demonstrating majolica technique:

      The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

      The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a part of a major pilgrimage route that dates back to the early middle ages. It is the burial place of Saint James the Greater.

      There are four facades that encase this massive complex, but the façade of Obradoiro is the main entrance. The current façade was built in the 18th century by Fernando de Casas Novoa. It is a Spanish baroque style and was built to incase the old façade. You can still see the ancient façade through the large glazed windows of the outermost façade.

      The grand stair was built in the 17th century by Ginés Martínez. The two ramps join together to create a diamond shape. They frame the entrance of the crypt of Master Mateo.


      Sunday, October 20, 2013


      The term Churrigueresque is used to classify the most elaborate and ornamental style of Spanish architecture from 1675 to 1750. The term was named after the Churriguera family. Jose Benito de Churriguera was an architect and sculptor from Madrid. Although the style was named after the Churriguera family, the origins of this style can be traced back to Alonso Cano. He was a painter and sculptor and the true pioneer of the highly ornamental style of Spanish art of the 17th century. He is responsible for the design the façade of the cathedral at Granada in 1667. 

      Example of an Estipite Column

      The architects from this style used architectural forms to create dramatic contrasts of lines and surfaces. In addition to the obvious lavish ornamentation, the use of broken pediments, undulating cornices, reversed volutes, and balustrades, create a very theatrical surface.  The Churrigueresque column, also known as the estipite, the shape of an inverted triangle. This feature became the central element in this style. The façade of the cathedral at Murcia is a great example of this style.  

       Cathedral at Murcia