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Barthlmä Firthaler

(fl. c. 1500—1551)


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(fl c. 1500–51). Austrian architect. He is thought to have been the son of Andre Firthaler of Innichen (now San Candido, South Tyrol), and he worked mainly in Tyrol and Carinthia. His earlier buildings, for example the castle chapel at Stein, Upper Carinthia (1505), still have simple star vaults, but in the following years his style was increasingly influenced by so-called Astwerkgotik motifs, which imitate branch and foliate forms. In the church built by Andre Firthaler at Wahlen (now Valle San Silvestro) in 1512, Barthlmä created a vault covered with flat, curving plaster ribs in the form of plant rinceaux. The ribs are no longer constructional, weight-bearing elements but have a purely decorative function. In the middle of each bay the ribs form a flower-like sexfoil, in the centre of which is an elaborate rosette instead of a boss. These sexfoil rib patterns are typical of Barthlmä's work and are found in the churches he built at Achornach (now Acereto; 1512–19), Prettau (now Predoi; 1524), St Martin at Ahrn (now San Martino, Valle Aurina) and Oberwielenbach (now Vila di Sopra; 1523), in the chapel of the auxiliary saints in the collegiate church of SS Candidus and Corbinian at Innichen (1524) and in St Michael at Lienz (vault 1531). The culmination of his artistic activity is represented by the churches of St Andreas, Laas (1515–35), Unsere Liebe Frau, Kötschach (1514–42), and Maria-Schnee at Maria Luggau (1515–44; only the tower survives). The thin plaster ribs spread plantlike over the whole vault, resembling fine, densely woven basketwork. In his last work, the Rainkirche in Welsberg (now Monguelfo; 1551), he further loosened the configurations of ribs, covering the vault with an ivy-like network of gnarled rinceaux. Firthaler's tomb is in the chancel of Laas Church.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.



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