Master Builders

Johann Christoph Knoeffel (1668—1752)

Johann Christoph Knoeffel, 1750

Only little is known about the training that the architect, born in Dresden, received. In 1698 Knoeffel became a bricklayer and around 1710 he worked for the Dresdian royal department of building and planning. Here he gained great practical experience and studied the theory of architecture of his time as an autodidact. His first project as designing architect was the laying out of the palace and garden in Heidenau-Grosssedlitz for the count of Wackerbarth in the years 1719/20. Since then Knoeffel ascended in the hierarchy of the royal department of building and planning.

In 1722 he was appointed court architect followed by his appointment as third senior court architect apart from Poeppelmann and Longuelune six years later in 1728. After 1733 Knoeffel’s scope of duties expanded and after Poeppelmann’s death in 1738 he led the royal department of building and planning. Despite of the necessary administrative duties Knoeffel managed to pursue comprehensive planning and construction activities. Especially the influential count of Bruehl made use of Knoeffel’s services for all of his building projects in Saxony. Knoeffel’s work shaped the development of the Saxon architecture from Baroque to Rococo. His buildings combine the tradition of the Dresdian baroque with the influence of the French theory of architecture of the 17th century. After the fire at Heidecksburg castle in 1735 Knoeffel accomplished the design of the new western wing and carried out the structural works until 1747.


Gottfried Heinrich Krohne (1703—1756)

Krohne on a painting in the green hall

As in the case of Knoeffel we only know very little about the training of Gottfried Heinrich Krohne who was born in Dresden in 1703. It is likely that he has received training in building trade and gained his first professional experiences with David Schatz, a building master from Leipzig. There is also evidence that Krohne worked together with Georg Baehr, the architect of the Frauenkirche in Dresden especially since Baehr’s wife Magdalena was Krohne’s godmother. At the age of 23 Krohne received work as a court master builder by Count Wilhelm Ernst of Saxony-Weimar. In 1726 he changed the tower of the Weimar castle and crowned it with a dome and a cupola. Krohne spent the summer of 1729 in Vienna in order to study and at the end of the same year he finally settled down in Weimar.

Under Count Ernst August I of Saxe-Weimar who reigned since 1728 Krohne’s rise to a court architect began. The building passion of his sovereign was decisive for his work. Krohne created numerous pleasure palaces and hunting lodges, among them Belvedere Castle and the Rococo castle of Dornburg. In 1741 when the duke Ernst August I of Saxe-Weimar inherited the Duchy of Saxe-Eisenach, Krohne also became court architect of Saxe-Eisenach. Under his guidance the city palace of Eisenach was erected and the hunting lodge in Wilhelmstal rebuilt.

After the dismissal of master builder Johann Adolph Herzog, Krohne was nominated senior court architect of the duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. His advice was also asked for in many other territories. He drafted the plans for many building projects. In 1742 Krohne designed the interior of the banquet rooms of Heidecksburg palace which should not only prove to be his last task but also the crowning achievement of his life’s work. 

© 2009-2021   Thuringian State Museum Heidecksburg Schlossbezirk 1 07407 Rudolstadt