Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches
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The Gothic Revival in Holland:
Carl E.M.H. Weber (1820-1908)
Although Weber was born and raised in Cologne, it is almost certain that he did not learn his skill at the completion of the cathedral in that city. Where he did, remains unknown. What is known, is that in secondary school Weber was a classmate of Vincenz Statz, who later became one of the leading neo-Gothic architects of the German speaking part of Europe. As the archbishop of Cologne’s advisor on church architecture Statz gained a position in which he could either make or break an architect’s career, although he often was commisioned himself. Not a healthy climate for an ambitious architect to work in, and this could well have been be the reason for Weber to find his luck somewhere else, although until 1858 he stayed a resident of Cologne, at least officially.
Webers career in Germany is a mystery. The only known building he may possibly have been responsible for is a chapel for a monastery in his hometown, which was designed by a Weber, and which happened to be at just a few meters from Carl’s house.
His career in the Netherlands started with the designing of several churches in the province of Limburg. In 1857 he married his second wife (his first wife died in 1850), and moved to her hometown Roermond permanently.
Confusingly, he changed his first name a few times since. Until c. 1860 he called himself both Karl and Carl. Once integrated into Roermonds French-oriented society he started calling himself Charles. Later he used the Dutch equivalent Karel until his death. All these names have been used in the scarce literature that has been published about him.
Weber was one of the major church-architects in the south of The Netherlands; he built 33 churches, many of which in the ‘s-Hertogenbosch diocese, although he was also quite active in Limburg early in his career.
In Roermond Weber became fascinated by the Munsterkerk, a large church in the late Romanesque style of the Rhineland. It became his biggest wish to restore this church, and he began an extensive study of the church. But it’s another ambitious architect from Roermond who was commissioned for this prestigious project. Weber sharply criticized P.J.H. Cuypers’ plans for the restoration, which in many ways were historically incorrect and lacked respect for the original building, after they had been made public in 1863. Although the restoration started in 1870, it was this sort of reaction that prompted Cuypers to trade Roermond for Amsterdam. Weber himself after the conflict mostly concentrated on building churches in Noord-Brabant, and ultimately developed a style that derived much from the Munsterkerk, ironically including the changes made by Cuypers. It’s worth noting that in a book from 1953 on the subject of catholic church-architecture, which is extremely positive about Cuypers, Weber does not even get mentioned. The rivalry apparently lasted until well after both architects had died.
Weber’s career can be divided in two periods: in the first period (until the late 1870’s) his designs were inspired mainly by late Rhineland Gothicism. In this period his work can be regarded as a bridge between early decorative and later, more historically correct, neo-Gothicism. Churches are often of the Stufenhalle-type, a type of hall-church typical for Westphalia, with three aisles under one roof and the side-aisles being narrower than the central aisle. He continues to use early neo-Gothic ornamenture and plaster vaults especially in his interiors for a long period. In the second period influences from Romanesque architecture dominate, making Weber one of the first architects in the Netherlands to break the neo-Gothic monopoly. Weber’s most monumental works are from this second period, and are often notable for the presence of a tall dome at the crossing.
Besides designing new churches, Weber was also responsible for the restoration of many older examples.
The last years of his life he suffered from a disease to the eyes, which made it impossible for him to work.