BEER, Franz
(b. 1660, Au im Bregenzerwald, d. 1726, Bezau)


Austrian architect from Voralrberg, part of a family of architects active mostly in south Germany and Switzerland. He was one of the most talented of the family. He worked mainly on church buildings at monasteries in southern Germany, chiefly in Upper Swabia, and Switzerland.

Franz Beer was apprenticed to Michael Thumb (c. 1640-1690). His first major project was the monastery church at Marchtal Abbey near Obermarchtal which he completed after the death of Thumb in 1690, together with the latter's sibling, Christian Thumb (c. 1645-1726), also an architect. This church is a prototypical Vorarlberg Abbey Church (1686-92), a Wandpfeiler (wall-pier) building with slightly projecting transeptal bay, three-bay nave, and three-bay choir, designed by Michael Thumb.

Franz Beer's next building (much under the Thumb influence) was the former Benedictine Abbey Church at Irsee (1699-1704), another wall-pier building with transeptal chapels, apsidal choir, and twin-towered façade, inside is the charming pulpit in the form of a ship, complete with sail and putti climbing the rope-ladders. Another wall-pier building was his Heiligenkreuzkirche in Donauwörth (1717-22), completed by Josef Schmutzer (1683-1740).

Franz Beer's most brilliant work can be found in Switzerland, starting with the former Benedictine Abbey Church at Rheinau, near Schaffhausen (1704-11), again the wall-pier building with twin-towered façade. Inside galleries are set back from the piers, so that bays and verticality are emphasized. His masterpiece is the former Cistercian Abbey Church of St Urban, near Langenthal (1711-36), with double pilasters on the wall-piers, and setback galleries. Beer was involved in the designs of the great Benedictine Abbey Church of Weingarten, north of Lake Constance (1714-24), not far from which, near Ravensburg he designed the Premonstratensian Church at Weissenau (1717-24).

Together with Michael Thumb, Christian Thumb and Caspar Moosbrugger, he was one of the main representatives of the so-called Vorarlberg school of architecture, which continued the Roman Baroque ideal of long edifices with galleries and mainly two bell towers.

In 1722, he was ennobled and took the name Franz Beer, Edler von Blaichten. His son Johann Michael Beer also was an architect.