Hans Puchspaum

(fl. c. 1418—1455)

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(fl c. 1418–55). Austrian architect. It is not certain whether he can be identified with the Hans or Hensel from ‘Wurmicz’ (Würnitz, Lower Austria) who is recorded from 13 July 1413 to 13 March 1417 as a mason at the Stephanskirche (now Stephansdom), Vienna; an undated document mentions a ‘Hanns Puchspaum from Wurnicz’. In 1418 a ‘Hans Buxböm’ is named, perhaps as an itinerant, in the register of the masons’ lodge at Ulm in a rapidly changing list of names. An 18th-century reference to a lost document stated that Puchspaum was made master mason of the Stephanskirche in 1446, but he was probably working there before then. He was charged with vaulting the nave, and it was explicitly demanded that he submit a design; he can therefore rightly be considered the creator of the domical nave vaults with stellar patterns of intersecting ribs (Knickrippensternen) and arching, bifurcating ribs. This is a further development of the vault forms in the nave of Maria am Gestade in Vienna, which have close connections with the circle of the Parler family in Prague and the Decorated style in England. Puchspaum may have found inspiration for the arching ribs, which represent an important early form of lierne vaulting (Bogenrippengewölbe), in the shop of Hans von burghausen at Landshut, with which he is thought to have been associated before taking over the works at the Stephanskirche. The vaulting campaign was begun after the construction c. 1440 of the steep nave roof, which is supported by the gables over the aisle walls; and the completion of the western gallery was also part of this campaign. A contemporary source reports that the foundation stone of the north tower (Adlerturm) of the church was laid on 13 August 1450 in the presence of the master mason Hans Puchspaum; it refers to him as the initiator of the new tower, but, although he would have had a decisive role in the planning, building was not seriously begun until 1467, long after his death. Some small-scale works at the Stephanskirche are also attributed to Puchspaum: the Füchsel canopy of 1448 (excluding the later choir loft); and probably the princes’ door, the five-sided entrance to the ‘Singertor’, on the south side of the nave, as well as the ornamental tracery of the Friedrichsgiebel above it.


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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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