Gottfried Semper

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Gottfried Semper
ETH-BIB-Semper, Gottfried (1803-1879)-Portrait-Portr 10869.tif (cropped).jpg
Gottfried Semper
Born(1803-11-29)29 November 1803
Died15 May 1879(1879-05-15) (aged 75)
Rome
Nationality German
OccupationArchitect
Buildings Semper Opera House
Monument to Gottfried Semper on Bruhl's Terrace next to Albertinum Monument to Gottfried Semper on Bruhl's Terrace next to Albertinum.jpg
Monument to Gottfried Semper on Brühl's Terrace next to Albertinum

Gottfried Semper (German: [ˌɡɔtfriːt ˈzɛmpɐ] ; 29 November 1803 – 15 May 1879) was a German architect, art critic, and professor of architecture, who designed and built the Semper Opera House in Dresden between 1838 and 1841. In 1849 he took part in the May Uprising in Dresden and was put on the government's wanted list. Semper fled first to Zürich and later to London. Later he returned to Germany after the 1862 amnesty granted to the revolutionaries.

Art critic person who specializes in evaluating art

An art critic is a person who is specialized in analyzing, interpreting and evaluating art. Their written critiques or reviews contribute to art criticism and they are published in newspapers, magazines, books, exhibition brochures and catalogues and on web sites. Some of today's art critics use art blogs and other online platforms in order to connect with a wider audience and expand debate about art.

Semperoper opera house.

The Semperoper is the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden and the concert hall of the Staatskapelle Dresden. It is also home to the Semperoper Ballett. The building is located near the Elbe River in the historic centre of Dresden, Germany.

Dresden Place in Saxony, Germany

Dresden is the capital city and, after Leipzig, the second-largest city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is also Germany's twelveth-largest city. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the border with the Czech Republic.

Contents

Semper wrote extensively about the origins of architecture, especially in his book The Four Elements of Architecture from 1851, and he was one of the major figures in the controversy surrounding the polychrome architectural style of ancient Greece. Semper designed works at all scales, from major urban interventions like the re-design of the Ringstraße in Vienna, to a baton for Richard Wagner. [1] His unrealised design for an opera house in Munich was adapted by Wagner for the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

<i>The Four Elements of Architecture</i> Book about the origin of architecture by Gottfried Semper

The Four Elements of Architecture is a book by the German architect Gottfried Semper. Published in 1851, it is an attempt to explain the origins of architecture through the lens of anthropology. The book divides architecture into four distinct elements: the hearth, the roof, the enclosure and the mound. The origins of each element can be found in the traditional crafts of ancient "barbarians":

Polychrome art terminology and color method

Polychrome is the "practice of decorating architectural elements, sculpture, etc., in a variety of colors." The term is used to refer to certain styles of architecture, pottery or sculpture in multiple colors.

Ancient Greece Civilization belonging to an early period of Greek history

Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Life

Early life (to 1834)

Semper was born into a well-to-do industrialist family in Altona. The fifth of eight children, he attended the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums in Hamburg before starting his university education at Göttingen in 1823, where he studied historiography and mathematics. He subsequently studied architecture in 1825 at the University of Munich under Friedrich von Gärtner. In 1826, Semper travelled to Paris in order to work for the architect Franz Christian Gau, and he was present when the July Revolution of 1830 broke out. Between 1830 and 1833 he travelled to Italy and Greece in order to study the architecture and designs of antiquity. In 1832 he participated for four months in archaeological research at the Acropolis in Athens. During this period he became very interested in the Biedermeier-inspired polychromy debate, which centred on the question whether buildings in Ancient Greece and Rome had been colorfully painted or not. The drawn reconstructions of the painterly decorations of ancient villas he created in Athens inspired his later designs for the painted decorations in Dresden and Vienna. His 1834 publication Vorläufige Bemerkungen über bemalte Architectur und Plastik bei den Alten (Preliminary Remarks on Polychrome Architecture and Sculpture in Antiquity), in which he took a strong position in favor of polychromy - supported by his investigation of pigments on the Trajan's column in Rome - brought him sudden recognition in architectural and aesthetic circles across Europe .

Dresden period (1834 - 1849)

Dresden, Interior of the first Hoftheater (Semper Oper) Dresden Hoftheater J C A Richter.jpg
Dresden, Interior of the first Hoftheater (Semper Oper)

On September 30, 1834 Semper obtained a post as Professor of Architecture at the Königlichen Akademie der bildenden Künste (today called the Hochschule) in Dresden thanks largely to the efforts and support of his former teacher Franz Christian Gau and swore an oath of allegiance to the King (formerly Elector) of Saxony, Anthony Clement. The flourishing growth of Dresden during this period provided the young architect with considerable creative opportunities. In 1838-40 a synagogue was built in Dresden to Semper's design, it was ever afterward called the Semper Synagogue and is noted for its Moorish Revival interior style. [2] The Synagogue's exterior was built in romanesque style so as not to call attention to itself. The interior design included not only the Moorish inspired wall decorations but furnishings: specifically, a silver lamp of eternal light, which caught Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima's fancy. They gave a great deal of effort to have a copy of this lamp. [3] [4] Semper's student, Otto Simonson would construct the magnificent Moorish Revival Leipzig synagogue in 1855.

Semper Synagogue synagogue

The Semper Synagogue, also known as the Dresden Synagogue, designed by Gottfried Semper and built from 1838 to 1840, was dedicated on 8 May 1840. It was an early example of the Moorish Revival style of synagogue architecture.

Monument for Gottfried Semper (1887) Denkmal fur Gottfried Semper 1887 Ki 00042-02.tif
Monument for Gottfried Semper (1887)

Certain civic structures remain today, such as the Elbe-facing gallery of the Zwinger Palace complex. His first building for the Dresden Hoftheater burnt down, and the second, today called the Semperoper, was built in 1841. Other buildings also remain indelibly attached to his name, such as the Maternity Hospital, the Synagogue (destroyed during the Third Reich), the Oppenheim Palace, and the Villa Rosa built for the banker Martin Wilhelm Oppenheim. This last construction stands as a prototype of German villa architecture.

Semper Gallery Museumsbuilding in Dresden

The Semper Gallery or Semper Building in Dresden, Germany, was designed by the architect Gottfried Semper and constructed from 1847 until 1854.

On September 1, 1835, Semper married Bertha Thimmig. The marriage ultimately produced six children.

A convinced Republican, Semper took a leading role, along with his friend Richard Wagner, in the May 1849 uprising which swept over the city. He was a member of the Civic Guard (Kommunalgarde) and helped to erect barricades in the streets. When the rebellion collapsed, Semper was considered a leading agitator for democratic change and a ringleader against government authority and he was forced to flee the city.

Richard Wagner German composer

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. He described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.

May Uprising in Dresden

The May Uprising took place in Dresden, Kingdom of Saxony in 1849; it was one of the last of the series of events known as the Revolutions of 1848.

He was destined never to return to the city that would, ironically, become most associated with his architectural (and political) legacy. The Saxon government maintained a warrant for his arrest until 1863. When the Semper-designed Hoftheater burnt down in 1869, King John, on the urging of the citizenry, commissioned Semper to build a new one. Semper produced the plans but left the actual construction to his son, Manfred.

"What must I have done in 48, that one persecutes me forever? One single barricade did I construct - it held, because it was practical, and as it was practical, it was beautiful", wrote Semper in dismay. [5]

Post-revolutionary period (1849 - 1855)

After stays in Zwickau, Hof, Karlsruhe and Strasbourg, Semper eventually ended up back in Paris, like many other disillusioned Republicans from the 1848 Revolutions (such as Heinrich Heine and Ludwig Börne). In the fall of 1850, he travelled to London, England. But while he was able to pick up occasional contracts — including participation in the design of the funeral carriage for the Duke of Wellington and the designs of the Canadian, Danish, Swedish, and Ottoman sections of the 1851 Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace — he found no steady employment. If his stay in London was disappointing professionally, however, it proved a fertile period for Semper's theoretical, creative and academic development. He published Die vier Elemente der Baukunst ( The Four Elements of Architecture ) in 1851 and Wissenschaft, Industrie und Kunst (Science, Industry and Art) in 1852. These works would ultimately provide the groundwork for his most widely regarded publication, Der Stil in den technischen und tektonischen Künsten oder Praktische Ästhetik, which was published in two volumes in 1861 and 1863. [6]

Zürich period (1855 - 1871)

Gottfried Semper Gottfried Semper Wien.jpg
Gottfried Semper
Polytechnikum in 1865 Hundert Jahre Bilder aus der Stadt Zurich - Das Polytechnikum 1865.jpg
Polytechnikum in 1865
ETH Zurich Hauptgebaude (main building) ETH Zurich from Polyterrace.jpg
ETH Zurich Hauptgebäude (main building)
Stadthaus (city hall) Winterthur Winterthur Stadthaus.jpg
Stadthaus (city hall) Winterthur

Concurrently with the onset of the industrial revolution, the Swiss Federation planned to establish a polytechnical school. As the principal judge for the competition held to select a design for the new building, Semper deemed the submitted entries unsatisfactory and, ultimately, designed the building himself. Proudly situated (where fortified walls once stood), visible from all sides on a terrace overlooking the core of Zurich, the new school became a symbol of a new epoch. The building (1853–1864), which despite frequent remodeling continues to evoke Semper's concept, was initially required to accommodate not only the new school (known today as the ETH Zurich), but the existing University of Zurich, as well.

In 1855 Semper became a professor of architecture at the new school and the success of many of his students who attained success and renown served to ensure his legacy. The Swiss architect Emil Schmid was one such student. With his income as a professor, Semper was able to reunite his family, bringing them to Zurich from Saxony. The City Hall in Winterthur is among other buildings designed by Semper in Switzerland.

Semper provided Bavaria's King Ludwig II with a conceptual design for a theatre dedicated to the work of Richard Wagner to be built in Munich. The project, developed from 1864 to 1866, was never realized, although Wagner 'borrowed' many of its features for his own later theatre at Bayreuth.

Later life (from 1871)

Semper's grave in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome Friedhof Piramide - Grab Semper.jpg
Semper's grave in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome
Franz von Lenbach's portrait of Gottfried Semper shortly before his death Gottfried Semper 1879.jpg
Franz von Lenbach's portrait of Gottfried Semper shortly before his death

Already in 1833, there were first plans in Vienna for the public presentation of the Imperial Art Collections. With the planning of the Vienna Ring Road, the museum question became pressing again. Works forming the imperial art collection were scattered among several buildings. Semper was assigned to submit a proposal for locating new buildings in conjunction with redevelopment of the Ring Road. In 1869 he designed a gigantic 'Imperial Forum' which was not realized. The National Museum of Art History and the National Museum of Natural History were erected, however, opposite the Palace according to his plan, as was the Burgtheater. In 1871 Semper moved to Vienna to undertake the projects. During construction, repeated disagreements with his appointed associate architect (Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer), led Semper to resign from the project in 1876. In the following year, his health began to deteriorate. He died two years later while on a visit to Italy and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome. [7]

Semper's (second) Dresden Opera House as it is today Semperopera.jpg
Semper's (second) Dresden Opera House as it is today

Legacy

Works (selected)

The Semper Synagogue c. 1860 Alte Synagoge Dresden 1860 2.png
The Semper Synagogue c. 1860

See also

Notes

  1. Dorothea Schröder: "Nibelungenring und mystischer Knoten. Gottfried Sempers Entwurf zu einem Taktstock für Richard Wagner" Jahrbuch des Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg,1993, P.120
  2. H.A. Meek, The Synagogue, Phaidon, 1995, p. 188
  3. Colin Eisler "Wagner's Three Synagogues", Artibus et Historiae 2004, Vol. 25/Nr. 50
  4. Eytan Pessen, Zusammenhängende Reliquien, eine Geschichte über Richard Wagner und Gottfried Semper, pp. 1-22, Semperoper Dresden, Erchien in Wagnerjahr 2013, Spielzeit 2012-2013 & 2013-2014
  5. Letter to Heinrich Hübsch, January 1852
  6. Curl, James Stevens (2006). A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Paperback) (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 880. ISBN   0-19-860678-8.
  7. Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome databases Semper Goffredo Archived 2013-02-07 at the Wayback Machine

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References

  • Berry, J. Duncan. The Legacy of Gottfried Semper. Studies in Späthistorismus (Ph. D. Diss., Brown University, 1989).
  • Hvattum, Mari. Gottfried Semper and the Problem of Historicism (Cambridge, 2004). ISBN   0-521-82163-0
  • Herrmann, Wolfgang. Gottfried Semper: In Search of Architecture (Cambridge, MA/London, 1984). ISBN   0-262-08144-X
  • Karge, Henrik (ed.). Gottfried Semper. Die moderne Renaissance der Künste (Berlin, 2006). ISBN   3-422-06606-3
  • Mallgrave, Harry Francis. Gottfried Semper - Architect of the Nineteenth Century (New Haven/London, 1996). ISBN   0-300-06624-4
  • Mallgrave, Harry Francis. Modern Architectural Theory: A Historical Survey, 1673-1968 (Cambridge, 2005). ISBN   0-521-79306-8
  • Mallgrave, Harry Francis. Architectural Theory: An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870 (Malden, MA/Oxford, 2006). ISBN   1-4051-0258-6
  • Muecke, Mikesch W. Gottfried Semper in Zurich - An Intersection of Theory and Practice (Ames, IA, 2005). ISBN   978-1-4116-3391-9
  • Nerdinger, Winfried and Werner Oechslin (eds.). Gottfried Semper 1803-1879 (Munich/Zurich, 2003). ISBN   3-7913-2885-9
  • Semper, Gottfried. The Four Elements of Architecture and Other Writings. Trans. Harry F. Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (Cambridge, 1989). ISBN   0-521-35475-7
  • Semper, Gottfried. Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts; or, Practical Aesthetics. Trans. Harry F. Mallgrave (Santa Monica, 2004). ISBN   0-89236-597-8