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Friedrich von Schmidt

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Born at Frickenhofen, 1825; died at Vienna, 1891, After studying at the technical high school at Stuttgart, he became, in 1845, one of the guild workers employed in building the Cologne cathedral, on which he worked for fifteen years. Most of the working drawings for the towers were made by Schmidt and Statz. In 1848 he attained to the rank of master-workman and in 1856 passed the state examination as architect. After becoming a Catholic in 1858, he went to Milan as professor of architecture and began the restoration of the cathedral of San Ambrogio. On account of the confusion caused by the war of 1859 he went to Vienna, where he was a professor at the academy and cathedral architect from 1862; in 1865 he received the title of chief architect, and in 1888 was ennobled by the emperor. Next to Ferstel he is the most important modern Gothic architect. In this style he built at Vienna the Church of St. Lazarus, the church of the White Tanners, that of the Brigittines. He also built the Classical gymnasium with a Gothic façade and the memorial building erected on the site of the amphitheatre that had been destroyed by fire. The last mentioned building was in Venetian Gothic. A large number of small ecclesiastical and secular buildings in Austria and Germany were designed by him. His last work was the restoration of the cathedral at Funfkirchen in Hungary. His chief fame however he gained by his restoration of the Cathedral of St. Stephen at Vienna. He took down the spire and worked on its rebuilding up to 1872. His design for the town-hall of Vienna was also a very successful one. The projecting middle section has a fine central tower that rises free to a height of 328 ft. and is flanked by four smaller towers. This section harmoniously combines height with broad horizontal members. A large court and six smaller ones are enclosed by the extensive building, the wings of which end in pavilions. Nothing in the building shows the regularity of a set pattern; the architect, rather, made skilful use of individual Renaissance motifs . When he began in Vienna his manner was rather stiff, but he worked his way up to artistic freedom. In building the parish church at Funfhaus he even ventured to set a façade with two towers in front of an octagonal central structure with a high cupola and a corona of chapels. His motto was to unite German force with Italian freedom. He modified the tendency to height in the German Gothic by horizontal members and introduced many modifications into the old standard of the style in order to attain a more agreeable general effect. In this way he always remained unfettered and original in his style and replaced in part what was lacking in decorative details or in the means of producing the same. He was teacher and model to many younger architects. A bronze statue of him has been placed before the town-hall of Vienna. His son Heinrich was overseer at the building of the cathedral of Frankfort and afterwards professor of medieval architecture at Munich.

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