Gottfried Semper

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Gottfried Semper (November 29, 1803 - May 15, 1879) was a German architect, art critic, and professor of architecture, who designed and built the Semper Opera House in Dresden between 1838 and 1841. In 1849 he took part in the May Uprising in Dresden and was put on the government's wanted list. Semper fled first to Zürich and later to London. Later he returned to Germany after the 1862 amnesty granted to the revolutionaries.

Semper wrote extensively about the origins of architecture, especially in his book The Four Elements of Architecture from 1851, and he was one of the major figures in the controversy surrounding the polychrome architectural style of ancient Greece. Semper designed works at all scales, from a baton for Richard Wagner to major urban interventions like the re-design of the Ringstraße in Vienna.



Early life (to 1834)

Semper was born into a well-to-do industrialist family in Altona. The fifth of eight children, he attended the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums in Hamburg before starting his university education at Göttingen in 1823, where he studied history and mathematics. He subsequently studied architecture in 1825 at the University of Munich under Friedrich von Gärtner. In 1826, Semper travelled to Paris in order to work under the architect Franz Christian Gau and he was present when the July Revolution of 1830 broke out. Between 1830 and 1833, he travelled to Italy and Greece in order to study the architecture and designs of antiquity. In 1832, he spent four months involved in archaeological research of the famous Akropolis in Athens.

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