Essays on Architecture, 1796-1799

Friedrich Gilly: Essays on Architecture, 1796-1799

Introduction by Fritz Neumeyer

Translation by David Britt


240 pages

PDF file size: 42.8 MB


When Friedrich Gilly died in 1800, at the age of twenty-eight, he had published only four short essays, and his executed works consisted of a few minor buildings still under construction. Nonetheless, by virtue of the influence that he—as a teacher, colleague, and friend—exerted on Berlin architects active during the first half of the nineteenth century, Gilly may justly be regarded as the founder of the Berlin architectural tradition. His legacy, moreover, extends into the twentieth century.

This volume seeks to afford new access to Friedrich Gilly's ideas on architecture by presenting for the first time annotated English translations of his four published essays and the unpublished descriptions of his proposed memorial to Frederick the Great. An introduction by Fritz Neumeyer clearly locates Gilly's work and ideas within their historical context and forcefully demonstrates the lasting influence that Gilly has had on architecture, particularly in Germany.

The Texts & Documents series offers to the student of art, architecture, and aesthetics neglected, forgotten, or unavailable writings in English translation.

Edited according to modern standards of scholarship and framed by critical introductions and commentaries, these volumes gradually mine the past centuries for studies that retain their significance in our understanding of art and of the issues surrounding its production, reception, and interpretation.

Eminent scholars assist in the selection and publication of volumes in the Texts & Documents series. Each volume acquaints readers with the broader cultural conditions at the genesis of the text and equips them with the needed apparatus for its study. Over time the series will greatly expand our horizon and deepen our understanding of critical thinking on art.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • On the Views of Marienburg, Castle of the Teutonic Order in West Prussia, Drawn in the Year 1794 by Mr. Gilly, Supervisor at the Royal Building Administration
  • Note on the Friedrichsdenkmal
    • Version 1
    • Version 2
    • Notes on a Sheet of Sketches for the Friedrichsdenkmal
  • A Description of the Villa of Bagatelle, near Paris
  • A Description of Rincy, a Country Seat near Paris
  • Some Thoughts on the Necessity of Endeavoring to Unify the Various Departments of Architecture in Both Theory and Practice
  • Appendix 1: List of a Selection of the Duplicates Present in the Royal Library of This City
  • Appendix 2: Friedrich Gilly's Book and Engraving Collection—Introduction and Facsimile List of Titles
  • Bibliography
  • Index

About the Authors

Fritz Neumeyer has taught at the Universität Dortmund in Germany, Princeton University, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, and at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He now holds a chair in the theory of architecture at the Technische Universität Berlin.

David Britt was an editor of art books at Thames & Hudson in London for more than twenty years; since 1987 he has been translating full-time. His translations in the Getty Research Institute’s Texts & Documents series include titles by Aby Warburg, Friedrich Gilly, and Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières.

Press Reviews and Awards

  • “With the welcome publication of Essays on Architecture, 1796–1799, attention can shift for a time from [Gilly’s] designs, with their gripping ‘carcase aesthetic,’ to his ideas.” —Newsletter of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain