Speeth, Peter

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Speeth, Peter (1772–1831). German architect. He worked under Pigage at Frankfurt (1788–94), and from 1804 at Amorbach for the Prince of Leiningen before moving to Würzburg, then the capital of the ephemeral (1806–14) Grand Duchy of the Rhenish Confederation under Ferdinand III of Tuscany (1769–1824). In Würzburg Speeth designed the St Burkhardt Gaol (1811, built 1826–7), originally the Guards Barracks, one of the most radical and startling works of Franco-German Neo-Classicism, standing below the slopes rising to the impressive Marienberg fortress of the Prince-Bishops. It has a rusticated base of immensely impressive power punctuated by three semicircular arches, and above the central entrance-arch is a colonnade of primitive unfluted Greek Doric columns set within a Graeco-Egyptian battered element with a plain pediment over it. The blank wall above, the over-scaled lion's mask, and the curiously forbidding character of the building give it tremendous authority as an example of architecture parlante. Speeth designed the Zellertor Guard House (c.1813–14) in Würzburg, also featuring rustication and baseless Doric, and looking rather like one of Ledoux's barrières for Paris. His Gerichtsdienerhaus (House of the Court Usher), 9 Turmgasse, Würzburg (1811–13—but much altered), was conceived as an Egyptian pylon-tower in shallow relief, with powerful rustication at the bottom and highly original fenestration. He also designed the Church of St John the Baptist, Unterhohenried, near Hassfurt (1812–17), and the Metropolitan Church, Kishinev, Russia (begun 1826).

Bibliography

Nerdinger (ed.) (1980);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
W&M (1987)