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German Renaissance - Architectural Character

( Originally Published 1921 )



The general character of Renaissance architecture in Europe has been dealt with as a whole, with regard to those features which are common to it in all countries (p. 542). The style was introduced into Germany from France about fifty years after it had taken root in that country, and may be roughly divided into three periods :(a) Early Renaissance (sixteenth century), chiefly consisting of Renaissance additions to Gothic structures, although some examples, such as the Heinrichsbau, Heidelberg, are of great size ; (b) Middle Renaissance (seventeenth century), less Gothic and more formal in character, includes a number of town halls ; (c) Late Renaissance (eighteenth century), including the Baroque style, during which the Orders were freely used in novel combinations. German Renaissance is remarkable for picturesqueness and variety in grouping, and for quaint and grotesque ornament, partly due to French influence under Henry IV, but it lacks the refinement of the French and approximates in some ways to our own Elizabethan architecture. It differs further from French Renaissance inasmuch as the buildings are generally in towns, whereas in France they are chiefly in the country.

The Baroque in architecture (p. 545) did not at once get a footing in Germany, occupied as she was with ecclesiastical differences and with Luther's fulminations against Papal Bulls. Moreover, the Reformation went ahead as a religious movement, and the influence of the Jesuits, who had adopted this style, was slower and less noticeable, though none the less insidious. There are, however, churches, convents, universities, and palaces throughout the different German states, particularly in those most accessible to Italy, which show that the coarser features of Baroque were seized upon with avidity by a people that has always given expression in monumental architecture to its materialistic ideas. The churches and palaces at Salzburg, Prague, Vienna, and Innsbruck, dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, have the usual and characteristic features of the style, modified to suit the taste of individual architects.



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