Klenze, Leo von

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Klenze, Leo von (1784–1864). German architect. He created some of the finest C19 buildings in Bavaria, notably in Munich, which he helped to transform into a sophisticated and beautiful Court and Capital City. Trained in Berlin (1800–3—where he was influenced by the elder Gilly and designs by the younger), he worked with Percier and Fontaine in Paris (where he also absorbed much of Durand's approach), and then became Court Architect to Jérôme (1784–1860), Napoleon's brother, King of Westphalia from 1807 to 1813. For Jérôme he designed the Court Theatre, Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel (1812), and in 1816 was called to Munich at the behest of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, who was to reign as King Ludwig I (1825–48). Under Ludwig's aegis Klenze created many of Munich's noblest buildings, starting with the Glyptothek (Sculpture Gallery—1816–31), built to house Antique sculptures, including parts of the Greek temple at Aegina, discovered by Haller von Hallerstein and others in 1811. Although Haller had produced a ravishing Graeco-Egyptian design, and Fischer a severe project with a Pantheon-dome, Klenze's realized building is a synthesis of Greek, Roman, and Italian Renaissance styles. Originally the vaulted interiors (destroyed in the 1939–45 war and unhappily not reinstated) had mural and ceiling decorations in the manner of Raphael's grotesques, and provided an explanatory iconography for the collection.

Also in 1816 Klenze designed the Leuchtenberg Palace (the first scholarly Italianate building in C19 Germany) on the wide, straight, new Ludwigstrasse running north from the Residenz (Royal Palace). Klenze designed several façades for the Ludwigstrasse, many of which had Florentine Renaissance allusions. Then in 1822 he designed the Neo-Renaissance Pinakothek (Picture Gallery), built 1826–36, to display the Royal Collection: the architecture drew on the Palazzo Cancellaria, Rome, and on the Belvedere cortile in the Vatican, but its clear, logical plan and top-lit galleries were influential, and the building was expressive of its purpose. When Ludwig ascended the Throne in 1825, Klenze was commissioned to add various buildings to the Residenz. These were the Königsbau (King's Building—1826–35), in which elements of the Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Rucellai, both in Florence, were mixed; the Allerheiligenhofkirche (Court Church of All Saints—1826–37), an important essay in the Rundbogenstil, with quotations from the Palatine Chapel, Palermo, San Marco, Venice, and Lombardic Romanesque; and the remodelling of the north front, the Festsaalbau (Festive Assembly Room building—1832–42).

Klenze's greatest buildings are his public monuments, which testify to his deep feeling for the architecture of Greek Antiquity. Walhalla, near Regensburg (1830–42), is a Greek Revival temple, based on the Parthenon and set on a high stepped platform derived partly from the image of F. Gilly's proposed monument to Frederick the Great (1797), and partly from an earlier scheme for the site by Haller von Hallerstein (1814–15). The rich polychrome interior, illuminated from above, is not unlike C. R. Cockerell's sensitive and scholarly drawings of the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, while the exposed decorated roof-trusses recall Hittorff's work at St-Vincent-de-Paul, Paris, which was contemporary. Then came the Propyläen (Propylaeum), Königsplatz, Munich (1846–60), with Graeco-Egyptian pylon-towers flanking the Greek Doric porticoes; the Ruhmeshalle (Hall of Fame), Munich (1843–54), a Greek Doric stoa-like colonnade terminating at each end in projecting pedimented wings, essentially a shelter for portrait-busts of eminent Bavarians (it is particularly interesting in that its composition is similar to that of the Hellenistic Great Altar of Pergamon, which had not been discovered when Klenze designed the Ruhmeshalle, so he is revealed as an architect with a natural affinity for Ancient Greek Buildings); and the Befreiungshalle (Liberation Hall), near Kelheim (1842–63), a drum surrounded by buttresses, with a Roman Doric colonnade around the upper part. These four monuments are among the noblest works of C19 architecture in all Europe.

When Prince Otto of Bavaria (1815–67), second son of King Ludwig I, was chosen as King of Greece in 1832, Klenze prepared an ambitious plan for Athens, including a vast new museum and elaborate proposals for the protection of ancient monuments, but only the RC Cathedral of St Dionysus (1844–53), a Neo-Renaissance basilica, was built. Klenze was more fortunate in his dealings with the Russians, for whom he demonstrated his skills in the huge Neo-Classical addition he designed for the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (1839–51), one of the very finest buildings of the European Classical Revival. He was a master of synthesis of styles, and was equally at home with most of them. As a Neo-Classicist, however, he was in the first rank.


Hederer (1964);
Honour (1979);
Klenze (1830–50, 1833, 1843);
Lieb & Hufnagel (ed.) (1979);
Nerdinger (ed.) (1980, 1987);
Watkin & and Mellinghoff (1987)