Beer family

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Celebrated family working mostly in South Germany and Switzerland, which created some of the finest Baroque churches in the German-speaking lands. Although there was a Georg Beer (1527–1600) working in Stuttgart in C16, the Beers came from the Bregenzerwald, and, with the Moosbruggers and the Thumbs, were important protagonists of the Vorarlberg School. The first member of the family to come to eminence in C17 was Michael Beer (c. 1605–66), who worked at the Abbey Church of St Lorenz, Kempten (1652–66), which on plan is a mixture of the longitudinal and centralized type, with a domed octagon set between chancel and nave. His son, Franz (1660–1726), one of the most talented of the family, earned his apprenticeship at the prototypical Vorarlberg Abbey Church at Obermarchtal (1686–92), a Wandpfeiler (wall-pier) building with slightly projecting transeptal bay, three-bay nave, and three-bay choir, designed by Michael Thumb. Franz Beer's next building (much under the Thumb influence) was the former Benedictine Abbey Church at Irsee (1699–1704), another Wandpfeiler building with transeptal chapels, apsidal choir, and twin-towered façade: inside is the charming pulpit in the form of a ship, complete with sail and putti climbing the rope-ladders. Another Wandpfeiler building was his Heiligenkreuzkirche (Holy Cross Church), Donauwörth (1717–22), completed by Josef Schmutzer. Beer's most brilliant work can be found in Switzerland, starting with the former Benedictine Abbey Church at Rheinau, near Schaffhausen (1704–11), again of the Wandpfeiler type with twin-towered façade. Inside, galleries are set back from the piers, so that bays and verticality are emphasized. Beer's masterpiece is the former Cistercian Abbey Church of St Urban, near Langenthal (1711–36), with double pilasters on the wall-piers, and, like Rheinau, set-back galleries. Beer was involved in the designs of the great Benedictine Abbey Church of Weingarten, north of Lake Constance (1714–24), not far from which, near Ravensburg, he designed the Premonstratensian Church at Weissenau (1717–24). Johann Michael Beer (1700–67) was responsible for the handsome twin-towered façade (and probably the choir) of the former Benedictine Abbey Church (now Cathedral) at St Gallen in Switzerland (1760s), together with his nephew Johann Ferdinand Beer (1731–89).

Bourke (1962);Lieb & Dieth (1976);Oechslin (1973);Jane Turner

Subjects: Architecture.

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