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Moosbrugger, Caspar Andreas

Moosbrugger, Caspar Andreas or Caspar Andreas Mosbrugger (1656–1723). German architect, admitted (1682) as a lay-brother to the Benedictine Abbey at Einsiedeln, south of Lake Zürich, Switzerland, on which he worked (at first under Johann ( Hans) Georg Kuen (1642–91) ) from 1674 until his death. With the Beers and Thumbs, he was among the most important contributors to what is known as the Vorarlberg School of architects working in the Baroque and Rococo styles, in and around the eastern shores of the Bodensee (Lake Constance). He was one of the first (1680s) Central European architects to alter the basilican plan by introducing circular, elliptical, or polygonal volumes. His grandest work was the huge Abbey at Einsiedeln, the planning of which dates from the death of Kuen in 1691: after a disastrous fire, construction started in 1704, and work on the Church itself began in 1719. Moosbrugger's plan of the Abbey bears some resemblance to that of the Escorial, Madrid, but the Church itself has an interior arrangement that marks its architect as a great original. The Church was both the Benedictine Abbey Church and a place of pilgrimage, for it contained a wonder-working statue of Our Lady presented by Abbess Hildegard of Zürich to Count Meinrad of Sulgen (c.797–861) in 853. A Gnadenkapelle (chapel for the miraculous image) was erected associated with a monastery of Benedictine Hermits (Einsiedler): in due course (C13) the monastery was created as an independent principality, and, owing to the throngs of pilgrims, became one of the richest in the area. In c.1617 Solari designed a rich Sanctum Sanctorum to house the image, and the chapel was associated with the tomb of the founder, by then St Meinrad, of the ancient House of Hohenzollern (Solari's work was destroyed in 1798, and rebuilt in reduced form to plans by Jakob Natter (1735–1815) and Luigi Cagnola). However, the position of the shrine was fixed, and to the east of it was a C17 chancel: Moosbrugger's solution was to unify the Church by creating an approximately octagonal volume (one side of which is set immediately behind the bowed front) around the Sanctum Sanctorum, with a two-bay nave flanked by aisles and wall-piers to the east of it. The western volume, accommodating the shrine and pilgrims, has, rising from the shrine, two piers carrying vault-arches, creating complex geometries. Eastwards lie the choir and high altar, and the entire interior seems to be very long, an effect enhanced by refinements of scenography and by the rich frothiness of the stucco and other decorations by the Asam brothers (from 1724).

Moosbrugger was active as consultant architect for several monasteries in the area. He remodelled (1684–1719) the Romanesque former Benedictine Abbey Church at Muri, Switzerland, creating a Baroque octagonal central space out of the former nave and aisles, and prepared schemes for the Abbey Church at St Gallen, Switzerland, where the central space may have developed from his ideas, although the architect mostly responsible for that great building was Peter Thumb. Moos-brugger's advice (1685, 1717) on the design of the vast Benedictine Abbey Church at Weingarten, Württemberg (built 1714–24) does not appear to have borne fruit, but his influence may be detected (and his involvement is documented) at the former Benedictine Abbey (now Parish Church), Rheinau (1720), the Parish Church, Lachen (1703), the Benedictine Abbey Church, Engelberg (1704), the former Dominican Convent (now Parish) Church, St Katherinenthal (1690), the former Monastic Church at Ittingen (1698—with an exquisite interior by Franz Ludwig Hermann (1710–97) and others), and the former Benedictine Abbey Church, Fischingen (1685, 1706, 1716), all in Switzerland. He was also involved in the design of the Benedictine Abbey Church, Disentis (1696–1712), and other works in Switzerland. Other Moosbruggers, e.g. Andreas (1722–87) and Peter Anton I (1732–1806), were producing stucco-work in the 1780s (e.g. the Church at Horgen, Switzerland), and J. S. Moosbrugger designed the Neo-Classical High-altar in St Gallen (1810). In 1845–6 Hieronymus Moosbrugger (1807–58) executed the Neo-Baroque Hall of Sessions in the Lower Austrian Landhaus, Vienna.

Bibliography

Birchler (1924);
Böck (1989);
Bourke (1962);
E. Hempel (1965);
Hitchcock (1968a);
Lb&D (1976);
Oechslin (1973);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Jane Turner (1996)

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