NEUMANN, Balthasar
(b. 1687, Eger, Bohemia, d. 1753, Würzburg)

Exterior view

Residenz, Würzburg

Baroque architecture in Franconia is particularly associated with the city of Würzburg and the architect Balthasar Neumann. The period in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, known as the "Schönborn age," is characterized by magnificent building schemes and a brilliant artistic life. The rulers of the house of Schönborn in Franconia and the Rhineland were all patrons of architecture and employed famous architects like Johann Dientzenhofer, Lukas von Hildebrandt, Maximilian von Welsch, and Balthasar Neumann. The head of the family was the Elector Lothar Franz von Schönborn (1655-1729).

Neumann received the commission for the Würzburg Residenz in 1719. The young architect was given the opportunity to work with famous architects such as von Welsch, Dientzenhofer, Hildebrandt, and the Frenchmen Gabriel Germain Boffrand and Robert de Cotte. Work commenced in 1720 but it was suspended in 1724. The building work was resumed in 1729, and by 1737 work was progressing so well that a start could be made on laying out the staircase hall. By 1742 the vault was in place. In the same year the great vault of the Imperial Hall and the White Room were completed, and the shell of the house was finished - after twenty-five years of construction - in 1741.

The main elevation of the building is framed by wings, each with a pair of interior courtyards. The structural plan can best be seen from a distance. From the lower end of the square, the façades of the wings and the central elevation appear to lie approximately on the same plane, creating the impression of a single long palace façade. But then the façade begins to move: the projecting centre section with its pillared portico appears to recede, although still remaining dominant. The wings open up to reveal a depth focusing on the centre of the palace.

The picture shows the entrance façade of the Residenz, the prince-bishop's palace.

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