The Most Prominent Examples of Dutch Classicist Architecture in Riga: Dannenstern House Cover Image
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Holandiešu klasicisma spilgtākie piemēri Rīgā: Dannenšterna nams
The Most Prominent Examples of Dutch Classicist Architecture in Riga: Dannenstern House

Author(s): Anna Ancāne
Subject(s): Essay|Book Review |Scientific Life
Published by: Mākslas vēstures pētījumu atbalsta fonds
Keywords: Dannenstern House; Riga; architecture; Dutch classicism; sculptural decor; baroque; colossal order; Johann Bodemer; Dietrich Walter; Philips Vingboons; Justus Vingboons

Summary/Abstract: Dannenstern House was built in the 1690s for the Dutch merchant Ernst Metsue, “landlord von Dannenstern” who became one of the most prominent and powerful representatives of the local aristocracy, capable of realising the most ambitious plans concerning his new home in Riga. In 1696 the main construction works were almost finished. According to the archives, all the sculptural work was done under the supervision of Zurich stonemason Johann Bodemer, while sculptor and woodcarver Dietrich Walter from Stockholm was invited to execute the sculptural decor. The architectonic composition of the main façade of the Dannenstern House is rather atypical for the Baroque period with its solution on two axes. The building has two symmetrical projections with portals that render the entire construction light and more presentable. The natural stone façade is divided by eight Corinthian colossal order pilasters to maintain the rhythm of the dominant feature and balance of the overall composition. In general the finish of the façade might be described as having delicately detailed elaboration – in both the acanthus ornamentation and the minor details.The characteristic features of the Corinthian capitals of the pilasters deserve particular attention. The technical implementation is on a professionally high level, as well as the artistic solution, refined and picturesque in detail, touched by the breath of classical elegance. Looking for definite samples, we find a completely identical solution of the pilasters at the Poppenhuis designed by Philips Vingboons and the Trippenhuis by his brother Justus. Since the stonemason Dietrich Walter was an emigrant from Stockholm where the influence of the Vingboons’ circle captured the dominant position in the architecture of the given period, such an analogy is to be regarded as no surprise. As the authorship of the Dannenstern House is still disputed, a few suppositions are proposed. Dutch merchants, diplomats and other active expatriate cultural agents would often provide themselves with modern and representative classical architecture by bringing designs from their homeland. In such cases the presence of an architect was not obligatory. However, it is unlikely that von Dannenstern brought a ready design with him when he arrived in Riga in 1673 because the purchase of the building plot would only take place 10 years later. Besides, the main argument against this version is the non-standard configuration of the building, provided by the specific character of the site. From a stylistic and proportional point of view, this building reflects a trend of architecture, considered by architects and the educated aristocracy to be an incarnation of classical beauty by means of mathematically clear and harmonious proportions. The main element for the implementation of this aim was the use of classical order according to the prescriptions of the followers of Palladio and the achievements of Jacob van Campen and his circle.

  • Issue Year: 2008
  • Issue No: 10
  • Page Range: 5-16
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Latvian