Thursday, December 5, 2013

Catherine Palace

Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli


St. Petersburg, Russia

In 1717 Catherine I of Russia wanted to build a summer palace, she contracted German architect, Johann-Friedrich Braunstein. Originally it was a fairly modest two story building. When Empress Elizabeth inherited the palace she decided it was too outdated. She had the palace completely reconstructed by a number of different architects before she finally commissioned Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli to demolish the palace and design a grander palace in its place.

The palace finally completed in 1756, and no expense was spared. More than 100 kilograms of gold were used as decoration and gilding for the 325 meter long palace. The facades are decorated with white and pastel blues, similar to the rococo style. The interior is full blown rococo, with golden state rooms and ornate gilded panels. The palace is lined with large arched windows that help to illuminated the various stucco decorations and frescos on the walls and ceiling.

One of the most extravagant interior spaces is the amber room. The entire room is covered with panels of amber mosaic. The original panels were initially a gift for Peter the Great from a Russian craftsman. Unfortunately, the original panels were lost when German troops took over the palace and shipped them off to Konigsberg. In 1982 there was a restoration effort for the amber room, which took over 20 years and $12 million dollars to finally complete.

For more information click the link below for a video tour through the palace.

class notes

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Würzburg Residence

In 1719 Johann Philipp Franz von Schonborn was elected the new prince-bishop of Wurzburg. Shorty after he decided to move out of town and he contracted Balthasar Neumann to be the lead architect during the construction of his palace. Neumann was a Bohemian born architect with training in surveying, geometry, mathematics and architecture. The Prince-Bishop wanted his palace to resemble a French garden palace. He paid for Neumann to travel to Paris in order to familiarize him with the style. 

Neumann took the characteristics he learned in Paris and applied that to his design. The building has a strong longitudinal axis, and the large U shaped courtyard with flanking wings, similar to Versailles. Other details such as the corner pavilions and balconies that are supported on columns are influenced heavily by the French.

In the interior you will find the Treppenbaus (stair hall). As you ascend the stairs it is as if you are emerging from the dark because as you look up all you see if the light-filled upper stair and the Weissersaal (white hall) topped with a magnificent ceiling fresco by painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

For a closer look at the palace click the link below

"baroque and rococo art and architecture" by Robert Neuman

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hôtel de Matignon

Built: 1722-1724

Architect: Jean Courtonne

Interior Architect: Antoine Mazin

In 1722 Christian Louis de Montmorency-Luxembourg, Prince of Tingry, commissioned Jean Courtonne to build his mansion. The mansion proved to be more expensive than anticipated, and towards the latter part of construction the Prince was forced to sell the mansion due to financial deficiencies. The count of Thorigny, Jacques de Goyon de Matignon, purchased the estate as a gift to his son.

 Courtonne completed the structure and exterior facades before the new owner replaced him with Antoine Mazin. The new architect erected the porch and the “iconic double doors [which] open onto the semicircle court of honor.”

The interior decoration is the Rococo style with heavy ornamentation and rocaille. A large portion of the original decoration is still preserved.

During WWI the hotel ended up in the possession of the enemy. But in 1922 France bought back the property thanks to the Treaty of Versailles. It is now the home of the Prime Minister.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas

Town. Minais Gerais, south of Belo Horizonte, is located on a hill region of Brazil, 
Bom Jesus is composed of six chapels and a basilica.
The patron of this church was a Portuguese which built the basilica out of gratitude. The Patron had suffered a severe illness but recovered, and to offer thanks he built the basilica. 

It was built in the late baroque style, and the basilica stands in the middle of the sanctuary.
country produced 1/3 of the worlds golds output. 

Aleijadinho dedicated his whole career to the Brazilian baroque style for architecture and sculpture. Regardless of loosing his toes and hands, he continued to create mater pieces, such as the life size statues of prophets which linger along the outside of the basilica. 

Some of the chapels contain some of his last master pieces. Many scholars admire the emotion which his statues show. He is known to have created some of the most renowned master pieces in South America. 

In 1765 the basilica was decorated from the interior in the rocaille or better known as the Rococo style inspired by Italian models, transforming its original appearance.

Whereas the exterior represents the Brazilian Baroque style, the interior harks back to Italian culture with the decoration in a luxuriant Rococo style that covers the walls and ceilings and clearly inspires the carvings on the altar, the statues and the paintings that cover the walls of the hall and the principal tribune.