Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chapel of the Rosary

Chapel of the Rosary
Puebla, Mexico

The Chapel of the Rosary is one of Mexico's most famous chapels located within Templo de Santo Domingo. At the time, it was called the House of Gold since it boasts one of the most extensive uses of gold leaf in Baroque architecture. The chapel is unique for the time because it takes the heavily articulated retable facade normally found within Spanish Baroque architecture and translate it onto the inside of a dome. Along with the gold leaf, the interior is also filled with sculpture and high relief carvings which give the walls and ceilings a feeling of movement.

The plan of the overall church is a Latin Basilica plan with short arms on either side of the central altar. On top of the altar made of wood and gold leaf with marble columns sits a statue of the angel Gabriel. Surrounding him are small cherubs and a group of saints; pictured above are St. Lucia (patron saint of the blind or those with eye-trouble; she is usually depicted holding a plate with eyes), St. Catarina, St. Ursula, and Agueda. Elements that are easily identifiable in the Baroque style include fenestration in the dome, articulated ribbing, arches, and a cornice. Marble Solomonic columns support the altar with what appears to be a miniature lantern at the top. Various oil paintings adorn the walls depicting the joys of the rosary, coronation of Mary, and the birth of Christ.

The dome is separated into eight sections demarcated by the decorated ribbing on the sides. Each of the eight sections except for one represent the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Understanding, Fortune, Mercy, Fear of God, Science, Council, and Wisdom. The one section that is not a part of this depicts the Divine Spirit holding a palm leaf and laurel branch which represent purity and immortality. The message that this would send is that by receiving and practicing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, one can achieve the highest wisdom as shown by the sun-like form at the very center of the dome with the dove.

Class Notes

Jakob Prandtauer

Jakob Prandtauer (1660-1726)

Jakob Prandtauer was born in July of 1660 as the son of a master mason. He grew up in Stanz in Austria, where he learned his father’s trade. At the age of 19 he began to study sculpture and architecture, soon after he got a job as a sculpture in the city of Sankt Pölten, South Austria. He established himself there and by 1700 he made a name for himself as a master builder.

Melk Abby (1702-36)

Throughout his architectural career Prandtauer worked for the monastery of Melk, where he helped rebuild a number of religious buildings. Although He was never trained in Italy, he looked at the Italian baroque forms for inspiration. from this he was able to create a native style of baroque. 

Seitenstetten Abbey  (1687–1717) 

Although The Church of Melk is his most renowned design, he also built the pilgrimage church on the Sonntagberg and the monastery at Garsten.  He was also responsible for the reconstruction of the Sankt Florina monastery, and numerous more. Thanks to his stone mason training Prandtauer was able to design all aspects of the building, including exterior and interior spaces.  

After Prandtauer’s death in 1726 his pupil, joseph Mungenast, took over his unfinished projects.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Antonio Francisco Lisboa 
also known as Aleijadinho 

Arguably the most famous Brazilian architect predating Oscar Niemeyer, Antonio Francisco Lisboa or Aleijadinho ("little cripple") practiced as a sculptor and architect in the Baroque style. Born in Vila Rica, Brasil, he was born to a carpenter father who was later regarded as an architect since his skill was so highly in demand in the country. It was from his father that he would learn the practice of architecture as well as sculpting while working on constructing the churches his father would design and build. Not too long after, Aleijadinho would start designing churches himself while utilizing his sculpting ability by carving some of the relief and figures himself. 

While practicing, Antonio Francisco Lisboa would develop a debilitating disease (either leprosy or scleroderma, a build up of scar tissue in the skin]). From this, Lisboa would inherit another name:" O Aleijadinho or "The Little Cripple". But despite this setback, Aleijadinho would find other ways of sculpting without being able to use his fingers. A popular method was to tie hammer and chisel to his fingerless hands. Not much is known about him after the disease became worse except that he became a hermit and rarely went out. But he did still work. And whenever he needed a breath of fresh air, his servants would carry him in a covered palanquin through the streets. 

His style consists of mixing various types of Baroque architecture. While his interiors are stunning still, its his design of the facade that is the most effective part of his work. For example, Sao Francisco de Assisi Church in Ouro shows cylindrical towers with bulbous crowns that are not found in any other form of architecture at that time. The different ways he is able to combine foreign Baroque architecture into one structure makes it both unique while at the same time appropriate for the period.

Class Notes

Karlskirche church

Location: Vienna

Dates: 1715-38

Architect: Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach

In 1713 the bubonic plague that swept through Europe reached Vienna. Emperor Charles VI vowed to build a church in the honor of the plague saint, Charles Borromeo, if the plague would end. Borromeo was an Italian bishop famous for ministering to plague victims. When the plague finally had ended Charles VI stayed true to his word and Karlskirche church, “St. Charles's Church”, was constructed.

Charles VI held a competition for the design of this church in which Fischer prevailed. Unfortunately he passed away in 1723 and his son, Joseph, saw out the remainder of the construction. The church is located at the bank of the river Wien, and has a line of sight to the Hofburg and up until 1918 the imperial patron parish church.

The sculpture on the façade illustrates Borromeo delivering Vienna from the plaque. Also the reliefs that are found on the triumphal columns depict moments from his life.

Fischer captured architectural elements from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Baroque to design this church. The columned portico is reminiscent of ancient Greece while the two columns in the front have a similar appearance to Trajan’s column in Rome. The dome and bell towers can be attributed to the baroque style.

Baroque and rococo art and architecture by Robert Neuman

Santa Prisca Church

Santa Prisca Church in Taxco, Mexico, was built after the discovery of silver. José de la Borda commissioned the construction of the church in thanks for the silver discovered on his property. The church was built between 1751 and1758. Santa Prisca was designed in the style of churrigueresque, a highly ornate style of Mexican baroque architecture.The retable facade also characterizes the church, with the distinctive solomonic columns, and statues of saints. The alter is like no other in the area. Several well-known Mexican artists contributed to the church’s interior decoration, including Cayetan de Siguenza, Isidoro Vincente de Balbas, Joseph de Alba, and the prolific Miguel Cabrera. 
"Today, Taxco de Alarcon remains a lively mining city, with the silver mine beneath the 250-year-old church still in operation. 
Santa Prisca, with its two stone towers, wide dome, and intricate finishes, is one of Mexico’s grandest and most beautiful churches. It is an exquisite example of the Churrigueresque style and the most prominent monument in Taxco de Alarcon, much loved by its congregants and the larger community. In 2001, Santa Prisca was included on Mexico’s tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage inscription."

Additional Sources:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Compania de Jesus

Project: Compania de Jesus or Church of the Society of Jesus
Location: Quito, Ecuador
Time: 1605-1765
Affiliation: Jesuit

The Facade:
Starting from the bottom, Solomonic columns derived from Moorish influence flank both sides of the main arched entrance that is topped by a broken curved pediment with a niche holding a saint in the center. Flanking the Solomonic columns are more niches holding saintly figures with a shell form found underneath the niche as well as inside of it. Those niches are topped by broken triangular pediments with bodiless figures in the center. The smaller entrances have a high relief of the Sacred Heart at the top with quarter and half pilasters on either side with Corinthian style capitals. The first level is demarcated by a deep cornice. On the outer-most parts of the second level, there are large volutes encase the quarter and half pilasters, two niches with saints, and aedicula in the center. This aedicula is topped by a broken curved pediment sitting underneath a large cartouche that breaks up the deep cornice flanking either sides of it. On top of the cartouche is another broken curved pediment topped with an inverted volute holding up a golden cross. The excessive exterior ornamentation sees influence in the Churrigueresque style from Spain. 

The Interior:
Although on the exterior, the only apparent references to the Moorish style are found in the Solomonic columns, almost the entire golden interior of Compania de Jesus is derived from the style. The forms are found in the flower-like patterning found underneath the arches and on the triangulated panels above them. Mudejar patterns are found on the barrel vaulted ceilings above in gold leaf. Taking more from the Spanish style, the church employs the use of the retable to highlight their altar at the opposite end of the Latin cross plan. Entering the church, occupants feel overwhelmed by the amount of golden relief. 

Class Notes

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dresden Frauenkirche: German Baroque

The Dresden Frauenkirche, Church of Our Lady, is a Lutheran church in Dresden, the capital of state of Saxony, Germany. Originally this church was a Roman Catholic church until it became Protestant during the Reformation, the current Baroque building was purposely built Protestant. This building is a good example of Protestant sacred architecture, featuring one of the largest domes in Europe. Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden during World War II. The remaining ruins were left as a war memorial.

The interior is decorated with baroque influences, very ornate. The interior is a shell for painting, sculpture and stucco with large-scale ceiling frescoes within the dome of the structure. The front alter Combines architecture, sculpture and painting into an integrated, unified whole which is bel composto. 

 The church was rebuilt after the reunification of Germany. Using original plans from builder Georg Bähr in the 1720s, reconstruction finally began in January 1993 under the direction of church architect and engineer Eberhard Burger. The church – except for its dome – was rebuilt using original material and plans, with the help of modern technology. The foundation stone was laid in 1994, the crypt was completed in 1996 and the inner cupola in 2000.

The exterior has elements from the baroque era, broken pediments, pilasters with capitals, and the ballastre along the cornice of the building.

Additional Sources:

Baroque in modern Graphic Designs

Not only are the baroque influences on buildings but also in modern graphics. The graphic designs below are few examples which today graphic designers have created. These graphics have baroque elements which influenced the designer to create the image. 

The graphics are ornate and have repeating motifs of flowers and swirls. 
The Baroque Style in the graphics allows the artist to create a bolder and richer graphic. Many of these graphics are advertisments of various concerts or 

Blackout by Steve Goodin is very ornate. The back ground of the image is influenced by the decor of baroque walls. 
Evolution by Nik Ainley is influenced by the sculpture which the era of baroque is characterized for. 

Mystic” that was inspired by baroque Eastern style statues and carvings.

Design is influenced by the Rococo designs during the baroque and rococo era.

Lightweight by Edmar Cisneros incorporated the sculpture and the leaves and ornate graphics which is influenced by baroque decor.

Additional Sources:

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Mudéjar, coming from the Arabic word Mudajjan meaning "domesticated", is used to reference the Muslims who remained in Spain after the Christian Inquisition. They weren't converted to Christianity and were protected by the Treaty of Granada(1491) to have religious and cultural freedoms. The style that developed through the relationship of the Christians, Muslims, and Jews during this time is identified as symbiotic.

The Mudéjar style emerged in the 12th century on the Iberian peninsula and survived all the way into the 17th century. The style was strongly characterized by the use of brick as the main material. Instead of involving new geometries or architectural elements, it reinterpreted cultural styles with the use of Islamic influences. The Mudéjar style also consisted of complex tile patterns. These patterns were meant to give life to flat surfaces on either walls or floors.

Mudéjar pattern on tile
The horseshoe arch was another one of the elements that was a strong indicator of Islamic influence. Before the Muslims invades Spain, the horseshoe arch was a main architectural feature for the Visigoths. From them, the Umayyads took the form, and accentuated the curvature of the arch through the alteration of colors.

Horseshoe arch in the Mosque of Cordoba


The Baroque in Germany

The Baroque style arrive in Germany after the Thirty Years War, which ended in 1648. The German government began using this style for royal houses. The Zwinger palace in Dresden, was built in 1709 during the reign of Augustus the Strong. The baroque style is seen in the facade elements and through the interior decorations as well which are sometimes considered to be in the Rococo style. It was built by  Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann and was used as the location for court festivals. The stairs at the entrance are another element that reoccurs throughout the baroque era. They are meant to portray the power of the emperor through the use of elevation.

The Charlottenburg Palace, located in Berlin, is another one of the palaces that demonstrates the baroque style of Germany. The construction began in 1695 and ended in 1713. It was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, wife of Friedrich III. It was built in 2 1/2 stories and consisted of a central cupola in the courtyard. The plan, consisting of the central courtyard was in the model of the French. The courtyard consisted of a large formal garden.


Estilo Desornamentado

The estilo desornamentado, is a term used to describe a phase in Spanish architecture during the 16th and early 17th centuries. This style is called estilo desornamentado, or style without ornament because it is just that, a style without all the additional ornamentation. It was developed as a reaction to the Plateresque style which was considered to consist of excessive ornamentation.

The term was first coined in the 19th century, replacing previous terms describing the style which included; Herreran, Escurialense, and Tridentine.

The style began in the 1540's and was at its peak during Juan de Herrera's work(1563-84). One of the most influential buildings categorized as estilo desornamentado, is the Escorial.

It was the historical residence of the King in Spain and is located in the town of San Lorenzo which is about 28 miles Northwest of Madrid, Spain. It had many functions which included a monastery, royal palace, museum and school.


Grove Dictionary: estilo desornamentado