GILLY, David
(b. 1748, Schwedt an der Oder, d. 1808, Berlin)


German architect, father of the architect Friedrich David Gilly. Already at the age of fifteen, Gilly was working in the gardens on the Netze. Becoming a specialist in building water-features, he was appointed master builder in 1770, and was active between the years 1772 and 1782 in Stargard, Eastern Pomerania. In 1779 he was promoted to building director of Pomerania. For King Frederick the Great, he acted as a source of expertise for comprehensive land improvement schemes.

In 1788 Gilly was recalled to Berlin where he was promoted to be architectural advisor for the provinces of Pomerania, East Prussia and West Prussia. His appointment as vice director of the construction and inspection department lasted four years. As such, Gilly was from 1792 to 1801 in charge of the building of the Bromberger Canal and the reconstruction and extension of the harbour of Danzig and Elbing.

Gilly later founded a private architectural school in Berlin in 1793 and five years later was one of the co-founders of the Berliner Bauakademie (today the technical university). In these years, Gilly created some of his most beautiful works: in 1796 the country seat at Paretz in Potsdam for King Frederick William III, and two years later the Schloss Freienwalde for Queen Louise.

Gilly conceived and erected a city palace in Braunschweig for the publisher Eduard Vieweg in 1801 and almost at the same time he rebuilt Schloss Steinhöfel for the Hofmarschall Valentin von Massow.

When in 1800 his son Friedrich died, he lost his creative impulse, even finding no pleasure in a short study trip to Paris in 1803-04. His wife Friederike died in 1804 and after the obligatory year of mourning, Gilly married her sister, Juliane Ziegenspeck. Gilly died in 1808.