Hildebrandt, Johann Lukas von

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Hildebrandt, Johann Lukas von (1668–1745). Born in Genoa, Italy, he trained as a military engineer, later becoming one of Austria's most distinguished and inventive early C18 Baroque architects (with Fischer von Erlach). He studied in Rome with Carlo Fontana, and absorbed much from the works of Borromini and Guarini, notably the possibilities of using interpenetrating elliptical plans, and undulating façades. During military campaigns in the 1690s he met his future patron, the great commander Prince Eugen of Savoy (1663–1736), and settled in Vienna in 1696, becoming Court Engineer in 1700. From 1697 to 1715 he was concerned with the design of the Mansfeld-Fondi (later Schwarzenberg) Palace in Vienna, where influences from Borromini and Guarini are overt, notably in the two-storey elliptical salon that bows outwards on the garden-front. The axial garden-layout, with ramps, changes of level, and terraces, derives from Italian prototypes, especially the Villa Giulia, Rome, and with the Palace, demonstrates the synthesis of Italian, French, and German sources that was such a feature of Hildebrandt's style, for there are traces of Le Vau's Vaux-le-Vicomte Palace, Guarini's Palazzo Carignano, and Bernini's project for the east wing of the Louvre, Paris. Hildebrandt's admiration for Guarini was even clearer at the Dominican Chapel of St Laurenz, Gabel, North Bohemia (1699–1711), with its concave corners, convex balconies, and plan of a circle flanked by two ellipses with chapels placed on the diagonals. This church-plan was to be influential, especially on the work of the Dientzenhofers in Bohemia.

Hildebrandt took over responsibility (1703) for the design of the Church of St Peter, Vienna (begun 1702 by Gabriele Montani), planned as a longitudinal ellipse crowned by a cupola, flanked by two rectangular compartments and an apsidal choir. The tall entrance-front is flanked by twin towers set at angles, giving great drama to the composition. Franz Jänggl (1650–1734) was involved in the construction of the building. A variant of the plan of the Peterskirche was used for the Seminarkirche (Seminary Church), Linz (1717–25). From 1698 Hildebrandt worked (possibly with a contribution from K. I. Dientzenhofer) on the beautiful Piaristenkirche (Piarist Church) of Maria Treu, Vienna (built by Jänggl, 1716–31), which has a similar plan to that of the Gabel church. Completed (1751–3) by the Piarist Mathias Gerl (1712–65), the church is by far the lightest and most joyous in a city where the Baroque tends to be sombre.

Hildebrandt's greatest work is arguably the Belvedere, Vienna (1714–24), the dream-palace of Prince Eugen, with almost oriental roofs and frothy façades with shaped pediments and corner towers. There are, in fact, two buildings—the Upper and Lower (1714–16) Belvedere—linked by a series of terraced gardens, with statuary and planting. The Upper Palace contains the most celebrated of Hildebrandt's staircases where massive, struggling atlantes carry heavy vaulting. He also designed the staircase with urns and putti at Schloss Mirabell, Salzburg (1721–7). Other fine staircases can be found at the Palais Daun-Kinsky, Vienna (1713–16), and Schloss Weissenstein, Pommersfelden (1711–15)—where he also designed the central pavilion. From 1720 to 1723 and again from 1729 to 1744 he collaborated with Neumann on the Residenz of the Prince-Bishop at Würzburg: his hand is evident in the shaped pediments of the central pavilion as well as in the Kaisersaal ( Emperor's Hall) and Chapel. He was involved in the rebuilding of the Stift (Monastery) of Göttweig from 1719: his plans were ambitious but never fully realized, although the building containing the Kaiserstiege (Emperor's Stair) of 1738 is as fine as anything he conceived.


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