Dientzenhofer Georg

Architect and builder, the oldest of the first generation of Dientzenhofer builders

The son of Georg Dientzenhofer, a farmer on the Oberulpoint farm near Litzdorf in Upper Bavaria, and Barbara née Thanner, the eldest of the Dietzenhofer brothers, architect and builder, creator of the pilgrimage church of the Holy Trinity called Kappl near Waldsassen, with an extremely symbolic architectural content, He opened the way for his brothers - in the case of Leonhard and Johann in Bamberg, in the case of Wolfgang in Amberg, husband of Maria Elisabeth née Hager and father of four children, none of whom pursued architecture.

Georg was born in 1643 as the eldest child of the marriage of Georg Dientzenhofer and Barbara Thanner on the Oberulpoint farm near Litzdorf in Upper Bavaria. He was baptised in the church in Au on 11 August 1643. Like his other siblings, he attended school in Flintsbach (see Common Beginnings of the Dientzenhofer family).

Probably in the period after the death of his father Georg on 20 February 1673, Georg sets out with his brothers and sister Anna on a journey from the family farm in search of an apprenticeship and work. The Dientzenhofer siblings gradually made their way to the metropolis of Prague, which was experiencing a Baroque building fever with the onset of the Recatholization after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. And Prague can be described as the first major turning point in the lives of the Dientzenhofer brothers.

Georg, the eldest of the Dientzenhofer brothers, is first mentioned in Prague in 1677, when he is recorded in the register as Georg Pinzenhover at the baptism of Dorothy Susanna, daughter of the Bavarian mason Sebastian Sock, in the Church of St. Thomas in the Lesser Town. He is also listed as a witness at the baptism of the daughter of master mason Johann Georg Mayer in the Church of Our Lady under the Chain in Prague in 1681.

In 1677, Georg is the first of the Dientzenhofer's to be recorded in Prague, when he is listed in the register as Georg Pinzenhover at the baptism of Dorothy Susanna, daughter of the Bavarian mason Sebastian Sock, in the Church of St. Thomas in the Lesser Town.

On 11 January 1678, Anna, sister of the Dientzenhofer brothers, married Wolfgang Leuthner, who can be assumed to be a relative of the prominent Prague builder and architect Abraham Leuthner, at the Church of St Thomas in the Lesser Town. All six brothers (v. Abraham) of the Dientzenhofer family are present at the wedding. The witness is Katharina Dinzenhofer (perhaps sister Barbara, as a middle name).

Abraham Leuthner employs Georg, Christopher and Leonhard in later years, the youngest Johann apprenticing under him. The question of whether the Dientzenhofers came to Prague on purpose to see Abraham Leuthner, or whether they worked with him in Passau, has not been answered.

The two families Leuthner and Dientzenhofer were later closely connected. Family ties were undoubtedly important for the later involvement of Georg, Christopher, Leonhard and Johann in Abraham Leuthner's construction company.

In 1679 Georg applied for Prague citizenship so that he could settle as a master mason in the Lesser Town.

In 1681, the reconstruction of the dilapidated monastery buildings of the Waldsassen Cistercian monastery in Horní Falec near Cheb under the direction of the builder Kaspar Feichtmayer is started. He is soon removed from the management of the building and the Cistercian order, at the instigation of Father Nivard Christoph, approaches the Prague builder Abraham Leuthner (1640-1701).

From 4 January 1682, construction in Waldsassen continued with the demolition of the old monastery and the laying of new foundations for the monastery buildings. The original plans for the rebuilding of the Waldsassen monastery, begun in 1681, are replaced in 1682 by the plans of Abraham Leuthner, who takes over the construction in the same year. Abraham Leuthner engaged the oldest of the Dientzenhofer brothers, the then 39-year-old Georg, as foreman for the construction of the Cistercian monastery and the Basilica of the Assumption. Georg is later mentioned for the first time as the possible author of the plans for the church. Brothers Christopher and Leonhard are also called as foremen for the construction.

From the point of view of the Dietzenhofer builders' further work, this is the second major turning point, the place where the brothers make the necessary contacts and recommendations, and from where their paths run with great family cohesion to architectural peaks in Bohemia and Germany.

Georg moves permanently from Prague to Waldsassen in 1682 and on 25 August 1682 marries Maria Elisabeth née Haager, the daughter of a Waldsassen butcher. The marriage produced four children baptised in Waldsassen (Anna Mechtildis *23.12.1683, Gertrudis *21.2.1685 †24.12.1685, Gertrudis *1686, Johannes Josephus *12.11.1688).

The activities of Georg, but also of Leonhard Dientzenhofer were no longer limited to Waldsassen in the 1780s. Independently of Abraham Leuthner, they accept commissions in sometimes far-flung locations in the Upper Palatinate and Franconia in Bavaria.

On 19 February 1683 Georg becomes a citizen of Amberg, the capital of the Upper Palatinate. However, until his death in 1689, Georg lived permanently in Waldsassen in the Upper Palatinate, where he married, baptised his children and died. In Amberg he paid a fee to the Amberg treasury in 1687 and 1689 to maintain his citizenship despite his absence.

Amberg is the historic centre of the Upper Palatinate, a historic trading centre and iron ore processing centre. In addition to this, it is also the site of a strong recatholicization in the 17th century. This was associated with the arrival of Catholic religious orders and strong building activity associated with the construction of monasteries and churches.

In 1683 Georg took over the construction of the Jesuit college and gymnasium in Amberg. In 1684 he draws up plans for the construction of the north wing and in 1686 plans for the extension of the west wing of the Jesuit college in Amberg in the Upper Palatinate in Bavaria. After Georg's untimely death, the construction was not completed until 1689 by Wolfgang Dientzenhofer.

In 1684, at the instigation of Father Paulus Eckhart of Münchenreuth and Father Nivard Christoph of the Waldsassen monastery, Georg designs the pilgrimage church of the Holy Trinity known as Kappl on the Glasberg near Waldsassen with the theme of a spatial expression of the mystery of the Trinity. The plans are submitted to the Bishop's Consistory in Regensburg on 17 December 1684, which approves them in April 1685. Construction begins in May 1685 and the foundation stone is laid on 12 July 1685. In 1689 the first service is held in the church, which is consecrated on 12 August 1711. The Pilgrimage Church of the Holy Trinity is the most important work of Georg Dientzenhofer.

What is remarkable about Georg's design of the form of the Kappl is the high symbolic content of the architecture. The divine Trinity is expressed in all its components by the number three. The floor plan is based on an equilateral triangle within a circle. The idea of the Trinity is symbolized externally by the three towers and three turrets with onion domes and three windows each. Inside the church, the Holy Trinity is expressed by three rotundas, which are in turn defined by three altars and three columns, each standing at the corners of the plan.

In 1685, Georg became Abraham Leuthner's equal as "aedilis monasterii" in the construction of the Cistercian monastery in Waldsassen. Georg is listed as building master in Waldsassen until 1688.

In 1685, Father Nivard Christoph of the Waldsassen monastery recommended Georg to the Jesuits in Bamberg for the construction of the new Jesuit church of St. Martin in Grüner Markt.

On 30 January 1685, at the age of 24, Georg's brother Leonhard married 19-year-old Maria Anna Hager, the daughter of a master butcher from Waldsassen and younger sister of his brother Georg's wife Maria Elisabeth, in Waldsassen.

In 1686 Leonhard is listed as master mason in the rebuilding of the Premonstratensian monastery in Speinshart in the Upper Palatinate, begun in 1683 according to plans by Johann Schmutzer. Some sources also mention Georg as the author of the plans for further building work. After Georg's untimely death in 1689, Wolfgang, referred to in documentary evidence as "the master builder Wolfgang Dientzenhofer of Amberg", appeared on the site. In 1692 Wolfgang submitted plans for the monastery church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and the abbey residence. The masonry work began on 22 June 1692. The rough construction of the church is completed in 1698 and consecrated in 1706. The four-winged monastery complex is not fully completed until 1713.

In 1686, Georg is appointed by the Bamberg Jesuits as the master builder of their collegiate church Namen Jesu, today's St. Martin's Church (Martinskirche) and Jesuit college in Bamberg. The foundation stone of the building, designed by Georg, is laid on 4 August 1686.

The construction of St. Martin's Church in Bamberg is subsequently taken over from Georg by his brother Leonhard, which is perhaps related to Georg's taking over the construction of the church in Trauttmannshofen near Amberg, which is designed and built by Leonhard for a change. The first service is celebrated at St. Martin's Church in Bamberg on New Year's Eve 1691. The church is consecrated on 17 May 1693 and fully completed in 1696. The Jesuit college in Bamberg is no longer completed without the Dientzenhofers until 1720.

With the construction of St. Martin's Church in Bamberg, the Dientzenhofer family finally establishes itself in Franconia. The collaboration of the Jesuit order with Georg and Leonhard begins the transformation of Bamberg, which is also known as the Rome of Franconia, into a Baroque city whose Baroque appearance is essentially determined by the architecture of the three Dientzenhofer brothers Georg, Leonhard and Johann. The transformation culminated in the reign of Prince-Bishop Lothar Franz von Schönborn (1655-1729) after 1693.

Georg Dientzenhofer died suddenly on 2 February 1689 at the age of 46 in Waldsassen in the Upper Palatinate.

His wife Maria Elisabeth, whom he had married on 25 August 1682 and had four children with, survives Georg and later marries the builder Bernard Schiesser. The fate of the children is unknown.