Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach

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Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1656–1723), master builder; Copperplate engraving; 1719; 11: 8 cm
Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, painting by Adam Manyoki 1723
Statue in Vienna
The Karlskirche, from "draft of a historical architecture"

Johann Bernhard Fischer , since 1696 Fischer von Erlach (born July 20, 1656 in Graz , † April 5, 1723 in Vienna ), was an Austrian Baroque architect .


Fischer learned the craft of the sculptor from his father, the Graz sculptor Johann Baptist Fischer .

Between 1670/71 and 1686 he stayed in Rome , where he frequented the former queen and important art collector Christine of Sweden . He also met Philipp Schor , in whose workshop he worked, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini there. He made himself familiar with the ancient and contemporary Roman-Baroque architecture. From sculpture he came more and more to architecture and from 1688 only worked as an architect. In 1682 he worked for the Spanish king in Naples. In 1686 he came to Graz, where he was commissioned to stucco Ferdinand II's mausoleum . In 1688 he came to Vienna and became a teacher of the young heir to the throne Josef , on the occasion of whose coronation as Roman-German king in 1690 he designed two triumphal doors.

For the imperial family, he designed a visionary ideal plan for Schönbrunn in 1688 , which was followed by a completely new concept in 1696. After various renovations, only fragments of it have survived. He also worked on the Viennese city ​​palace of the Strattmann and Batthyány families . In 1696 Johann Bernhard Fischer was elevated to the hereditary-Austrian nobility with the predicate "von Erlach" (his mother was born Erlacher ).

Between 1693 and 1699 he built the Archbishopric of Salzburg five churches: the Collegiate Church , the Ursuline church , the Holy Trinity Church , the Johann hospital church in Mülln and the Sanctuary of Maria Kirchental in Pinzgau . In addition, he began in 1698 with the first construction phase of the city palace of Prince Eugene . The portal and the staircase are particularly noteworthy. He lost this job to Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt in 1700 .

In 1705 he was appointed "Chief Inspector of all Court and Pleasure Buildings", this farmyard was initially not followed by any construction contracts. It was not until 1709 that the Bohemian Court Chancellery in Wipplingerstraße in Vienna could begin. It is the only building with a triangular gable on which a sloping roof was planned from the start. In 1721 his main work on architectural theory appeared, a collection of copperplate engravings in folio format with the original title Entwurff Eine Historischen Architectur . According to Fischer, he worked on it for 16 years. He was an excellent draftsman who gave his also excellent engravers first-class templates. Three sections of the collection contained representations of important buildings of the past, starting with the Seven Wonders of the World . The sources were often inadequate, and Fischer had to close many gaps in his knowledge with imaginative additions. As far as China was concerned, Joan Nieuhof's reports on China served him as a model. In the fourth section he presented his own work. The work is considered the first universal architectural history in the world, with historical and archaeological fidelity not being the primary goal. Fischer's collection of copper engravings did not aim at an objective representation of the world history of architecture, but served the resurgent Habsburg empire , when the court architect Fischer legitimized the splendor of imperial architecture through carefully selected examples of history.

In 1715 he was able to prevail against Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt , among others , in the competition to build the Karlskirche . This multi-layered building, the facade of which looks towards the Hofburg , is considered to be his main work. The church is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo , the patron saint of the plague and namesake of Emperor Charles VI. In the design of the Karlskirche, Fischer used various historical models, including the Trajan Column in Rome, and combined them with modern architectural means. After his death in 1723, his son Joseph Emanuel took over the unfinished projects, namely the Karlskirche , which was consecrated in 1737.

In the end he received orders from the Hofburg, namely the court stables and the court library were planned by him. The court library corresponds to today's state hall of the Austrian National Library and was originally planned as a free-standing building.

Fischer von Erlach was married twice, his first marriage from 1690 to the Regensburg notary's daughter Sophie Constantia Morgner, with whom he had four children. In 1705 he married Francisca Sophia, née Lechner, widowed Willer. This second marriage was a disappointment for him, as the wife left her aging husband, so that he disinherited her in his will in 1723.

In 1875 the Erlachgasse and Erlachplatz in Vienna- Favoriten (10th district) were named after the architect.


Fischer von Erlach is one of the outstanding architects of his time, but who remains unique in Austrian architecture, not least because of his classicistic orientation. Its formal language is calm and monumental - ornaments take a back seat to an emphasis on architectural harmony. Wherever he continued projects by other architects, for example at Palais Schwarzenberg , which he took over from Hildebrandt, he standardized the facade. As he got older, he approached more and more Western European, especially French, architecture. Probably for this reason, unlike his contemporary Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt , apart from his son, he remained without a successor.


Karlskirche in Vienna


The imperial quarry

Mainly supporting architectural parts were made of the hardest Kaiserstein , so an intensive collaboration with Kaisersteinbruch masters is documented.


  • Hans Aurenhammer: JB Fischer von Erlach , London 1973.
  • Andreas Kreul : Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach 1656–1723. Direction of the relation . With a directory of sculptural and architectural works, an extensive bibliography and new color photographs of Georg Parthen's buildings. Verlag Anton Pustet, Salzburg / Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7025-0534-2 (current monograph).
  • George Kunoth: The historical architecture of Fischer von Erlach. Schwann, Düsseldorf 1956.
  • Hellmut Lorenz : Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach . Verlag für Architektur, Zurich / Munich / London 1992, ISBN 3-7608-8132-7 .
  • Jaromír Neumann : Bohemian Baroque . Odeon, Prague 1968, 1972
  • Friedrich Polleroß (Hrsg.): Fischer von Erlach and the Viennese baroque tradition . Böhlau Verlag, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 1995, ISBN 3-205-98400-5 .
  • Hans Sedlmayr : Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach . Edited by Giovanna Curcio, a. v. Hermann Bauer, dva, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-421-03135-5 .
Lexicon entries

Web links

Commons : Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The names mentioned were (selection) Ambrosius Ferrethi riding stables at Lednice Palace, Giovanni Pietro della Torre Stadtpalais Clam-Gallas, Johann Georg Haresleben , Schönbrunn Palace, Schönborn Palace, Elias Hügel , Johann Baptist Kral , Simon Sasslaber and Johann Sebastian Hillebrand Karlskirche, Court Library, Giovanni Battista Passerini , in: Helmuth Furch , Historisches Lexikon Kaisersteinbruch. Volume 2 I – Z, Index Ferrethi Ambrosius, Torre Giovanni Pietro della, Haresleben Joh., Passerini Giovanni, Sasslaber Simon, Elias Hill. Museum and cultural association Kaisersteinbruch , Bruckneudorf-Kaisersteinbruch 2004.
  2. ^ Historical lexicon Kaisersteinbruch. Volume 2 I-Z. PDF.