Lynch: "ein liebhaber aller freyen khünst": Bonifaz Wolmut and the Architecture of the Renaissance in Prague and Europe
Prague’s chief architect in the sixteenth century, Bonifaz Wolmut, was among the most important architects working in Renaissance Europe and was responsible for some of the most significant buildings of the period. Despite receiving little attention from scholars, Wolmut’s projects, including the 1547 Vienna plan, the Belvedere, ball court, Diet Hall and tribune at Prague castle, the tower and organ loft of St. Vitus cathedral, and the Star Villa at White Mountain, set a new direction for the architecture of the northern Renaissance in their innovative use of both Classical and Gothic forms. Building on extensive archival and material evidence for the artist’s life, this dissertation is the first complete study of Bonifaz Wolmut, the architecture of Prague, and their relationship to Renaissance architecture across Europe.
Wolmut himself set the terms for a reassessment of the role of the northern architect in the Renaissance, when, in 1550, he inscribed in a newly acquired book, "Bonifaz Wolmut of Überlingen, stonemason, citizen of Vienna in Austria, a lover of all the liberal arts commissioned this translation from Latin into the German language." The volume in question was a manuscript translation of Ptolemy and formed only a small part of the artist’s library. Wolmut’s career and working methods are representative of architectural practices across Europe, but the importance of his works and imperial patrons, his insistence upon the term "stonemason" rather than "architect" and the survival both his buildings and his library offer an opportunity to reexamine the role of the northern Renaissance architect in relationship to contemporary intellectual culture, architectural theory, and the continued use of Gothic throughout the sixteenth-century.