ARNOLD OF WESTPHALIA
(b. ca. 1425, Leipzig, d. 1480, Meissen)

General view

begun 1470
Photo
Albrechtsburg Castle, Meissen

The Albrechtsburg (so-called in 1676) in Meissen is one of the most important German Late Gothic buildings, commissioned by the brothers Elector Ernest (reg 1464-86) and Duke Albrecht (reg 1464-85) of Saxony as their main residence and seat of government. It is the best example of Arnold's original and innovative style in the transition from the medieval to the modern era: here, the fortified nature of the medieval castle gave way to the splendour of a modern palace complex. The buttresses are turned inwards, the piers have strong concave mouldings and no capitals, and the vault springers rise directly from the socles. The unusually large windows have arches shaped like a gathered curtain. This decorative feature, known as a 'curtain arch', was characteristic of Arnold and his workshop.

The uniquely rich and fantastic vaults in the interior of the Albrechtsburg, especially in the Great Hall, have earned Arnold the epithet 'master of vaulting technique'. Almost all the rooms have cell vaults of a type first used in larger rooms in the Albrechtsburg, which quickly spread throughout Saxony and the neighbouring regions to the east. There are also vaults of original design in the Wappensaal, where the ribs cross at different levels, and the stone Princes' Stairs, called the 'Grosser Wendelstein'.