The center of Baroque art was undisputable Vienna, as a special promoter appeared the Emperor Charles VI., under whose reign not only the Karlskirche was built, but also numerous buildings have been newly planned or built. The passion for building of the High Baroque is not only founded by the destructions of the Turks, but also has its causes in the backward economic structure and its lack of production plants. Whether nobleman, cleric or commoner, all those with sufficient capital put it rather in construction funds into practice than not make use of it. Responsible for this was a deep distrust to the imperial fiscal policy and concern about the currency and a possible bankruptcy.
The Baroque emerged within the civil peace (*) Burgfrieden) of the city of Vienna, had at the beginning of the High Baroque era still dominated religious buildings, so the cityscape changed in just four decades. Vienna was transformed into a "palace city", by the year 1740, the number of pleasure palaces, gardens and belvederes had doubled. The Baroque style, which by crown, church and nobility was forced upon the citizens, is considered of Felix Czeike as "authority art". The existing social gap should be camouflaged by the rubberneck culture in festivities, receptions and parades.
*) Burgfrieden (The term truce or Castle peace referred to a jurisdiction in the Middle Ages around a castle, in which feuds, so hostilities of private individuals among themselves, under penalty of ostracism were banned. Today the term is mainly used in a figurative sense.
Due to the return of Fischer von Erlach to Vienna in 1686 and a decade later, Lukas von Hildebrandt, the primacy of the Italians in architecture was broken and the victory parade of Austrian Baroque began. The connection between the spiritual and secular powers found its mode of expression in the Baroque, which the appearance of the city of Vienna should characterize in a decisive manner.
Construction of Charles Church
The Karlskirche was built by Emperor Charles VI. commemorating the plague saint, Charles Borromeo. In 1713 the plague raged in Vienna and claimed about 8,000 human lives, in February 1714 the plague disappeared and as a sign of gratitude was began with the construction of the church, this should become the most important religious building of Vienna in the 18th century.
In a contest was decided on the builder – participants were Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and Ferdinando Galli-Bibienas. As winner emerged the famous architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, he died in 1723 and did not live to the achievement of the Church. The supervision was transferred to the imperial court architect Anton Erhard Martinelli, as Fischer von Erlach died, his son, Joseph Emmanuel, finished his work. On 28 October 1737 St. Charles Church was solemnly by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Sigismund Count Kollowitz, inaugurated. The spiritual care ceded Emperor Karl VI. to the chivalric Order of the Cross with the Red Star, since 1783 is the Karlskirche imperial patronage parish.
The church at that time lay still behind the regulated river Wien (Wienfluss) and in the open field. The directed towards the city face side of the Charles Church, which stood on the edge of the suburb of Wieden, was target point of a line of sight the Hofburg and St. Charles Church in the sense of a "via triumphalis" connecting. On the temple-like front building of the Karlskirche the dedication inscription is clearly visible "Vota mea Reddam in conspectu timentium Deum" – "I will fulfill my vow before those who fear God."
Already during the construction by Fischer von Erlach (senior), there were several project phases, three of which have been preserved:
1. Medaillon by Daniel Warou for the groundbreaking ceremony
2. Fore stitches in Fischer’s draft of a historical architecture 1721
3. Viennese view of work by Klein and Pfeffel 1722 (1724)
Due to the death of Fischer von Erlach, occured recent changes made by his son, Joseph Emmanuel most of all being concerned the dome (much higher and steeper), the priest choir (omitted) and the interior (simpler). The entire project took a total of 21 years and the costs amounted to 304 045 guilders and 22 ¼ cruisers. The construction costs were shouldered by all crown lands of the Empire, but also Spain, Milan and the Netherlands had to make a contribution.
The Karlskirche is the most important Baroque building of the city and represents the most convincing the so-called Empire style in which for the last time an empire awareness in the architecture of the capital of the Holy Roman Empire after the victorious ended wars against the Turks and the French was expressed.
Symbolism of the Karlskirche
The Karlskirche consists of a central rotunda with a dome, preceded by a column structure like a Greek temple, of two high pillars illustrated on the model of Trajan’s Column in Rome and of two lateral gate pavilions. The illustrated columns represent Charles VI. as a wise and strong secular ruler, the two great pillars were created by Marder and Matielli. The columns are crowned by golden eagles, symbolizing the two virtues of the Emperor – fortitudo (bravery) and constantia (resistance). The two pillars are evocative of the two pillars before the temple in Jerusalem – Jachin and Boaz. However, the illustration of the two columns does not match the model of the Trajan columns in Rome, portraying war deeds, but these tell the life story of St. Borromeo. In the front view of the Karlskirche a wide range of different symbols become one whole – the Roman emperors Trajan and Augustus, the Temple of Solomon, St. Peter’s Church in Rome, Hagia Sophia, Charlemagne and the Empire of Charles V. – through the skillfully used symbols should be shown the claim of the house of Habsburg to the European domination.
The plan view of the church is, as in baroque typical, ellipsoid. In the interior of the Karlskirche the great Baroque sculpture is immediately noticeable, representing St. Borromeo. At the base the four Latin Fathers of the Church are depicted. The interior of the Karlskirche is dominated by the tremendous fresco in the oval dome room, it was created by the eminent Baroque painter Johann Michael Rottmayr between 1725-1730. The fresco shows the Mother of God representing the intercession of the patron Saint of the Church to help head off the plague, surrounded is the scene by the cardinal virtues (faith, hope and love). In the left entrance wing is situated the tomb for the Austrian poet Heinrich Joseph von Collin (17771-1811).
Inside the St. Charles Church, there is a museum where the most valuable pieces are exhibited.
These include: the vestments of St. Borromeo, a reliquary of gold and silver – a donation of Emperor Charles VI. and a rococo monstrance (1760) containing a drop of blood of the saint. Thomas Aquinas.
Even the image of the architect Fischer von Erlach, painted by Jacob von Schuppen, is one of the church treasures.
The iconographic program of the Charles Church was written by Carl Gustav Haerus, by this the Saint Charles Borromeo should be connected to the imperial founder.
Posted on 2017-02-04 10:47:05