KREBS, Conrad
(b. ca. 1491, d. 1540, Torgau)

Exterior view

Hartenfels Castle, Torgau

The burgeoning of Italian Renaissance architectural forms in Germany was even slower than in other northern European countries. Only by the middle of the 16th century was the Renaissance style manifestly important, generally in those regions in closest contact with Italy, such as southern Germany or the trade route along the Rhine River leading from the south to the Low Countries. The style lingered in Germany until about the middle of the 17th century. The few hints of classicism in Germany prior to the mid-16th century can be considered the early Renaissance phase. They were limited to minor architectural monuments, such as the Fugger Chapel in St. Anne's church at Augsburg (1509-18), which was the first Renaissance building in Germany, or they consisted of bits of Renaissance decoration attached to Gothic structures. An example of the latter is Hartenfels Castle (c. 1532-44) at Torgau by Conrad Krebs, which is completely medieval in design but has occasional fragments of Classical ornament applied to the surface.

The Johann-Friedrich-Bau, designed by Conrad Krebs, was built in 1533-36 and closes the courtyard on the south-east side opposite the main entrance. This major work of the early German Renaissance consists of a long three-storey block in 13 bays, articulated by a succession of coupled curtain arch windows, a characteristic of the transitional period from Late Gothic to early Renaissance in Germany; a fourth storey was added c. 1820. Horizontality is further stressed by a projecting walkway that runs across the elevation at third-floor level, supported on stone brackets. This horizontality is countered at mid-point by the vertical contrast of the Grosse Wendelstein, a stair-tower that projects from the main block and rises from a simple rectangular substructure with a flight of steps on either side. The walling of the tower is reduced to its framing piers, through which the spiral may be seen, while the crowning gable follows the curvature of the plan.

The photo shows the Johann-Friedrich-Bau (wing C).

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.