Caspar Theiss

(fl. c. 1537—1544)

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(fl c. 1537–44; d Berlin, c. 1550). German architect. He probably served his apprenticeship with Konrad Krebs at Torgau, and he subsequently worked as a court architect for Joachim II, Elector of Brandenburg (reg 1535–71). His chief work was the reconstruction of the electoral castle at Berlin-Cölln, erected from 1537 in place of a medieval fortress. The two-wing structure on the River Spree, recorded in views and descriptions, was later radically altered by Andreas Schlüter (from 1700). Only a few parts on the riverside had survived from this time when the castle, damaged in World War II, was destroyed by the East German authorities in 1950 (Erasmus Chapel; ‘Green Hat’ staircase tower). The important Renaissance layout was inspired primarily by contemporary French castle architecture (Blois, Chambord), and there were stylistic similarities with the parts of Schloss Hartenfels at Torgau, designed by Krebs. Some evidence of collaboration is provided by a journey undertaken by Krebs to Berlin in the spring of 1537, and by a wooden model of the Berlin project documented in account books in Torgau. Various smaller castle buildings in Brandenburg are also attributed to Theiss, but they have either been completely rebuilt or have been lost by dilapidation. Only the Hunting Lodge (1542–3) in Grunewald (now Berlin-Grunewald) has basically survived. Evidence of the architect's identity is provided by a relief in the entrance hall, completed by Hans Schenck. It depicts Theiss with the court sculptor and a court servant. The castle at Küstrin (now Kostrzyn, Poland), documented in views, stylistically resembles the Berlin castle. Theiss was also active as an engineer in the Brandenburg mining industry: in 1539 he founded a mining association and in 1544 initiated a saltmine in Beelitz.

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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.