The chief engineer/designer of the famous Würzburg Residenz was a man by the name of Balthasar Neumann. He was born in Bohemia, what is now the Czech Republic in 1687 and died in Würzburg, Germany in 1753. By the time of his death he was considered one of the greatest German architects, and is even compared to Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo in terms of design. While he became a great architect he started out as an apprentice with his godfather Balthasar Platzer making bells and weapons (Otto, 1). While this held him for the time being it is not what he really wanted to do. Later he received more money from the Franconian military to continue studying weapons, and including hydraulics and architecture. He left the military and traveled back to Würzburg.
The Schönborn family commissioned Neumann to build a fountain at their family palace in Gaibach. This was his first commission, but would lead to a close tie between Neumann and the Schönborn family. “The Schönborn family were all patrons of architecture, and were bitten by the building bug”(Toman, 210). In 1719 Neumann was commissioned to build a series of houses in Würzburg from Prince Bishop Johann Philipp von Greiffenklau whose successor was Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn. After this the Schönborn family became Neumann’s biggest supporters. In 1719 Schönborn decided to move the headquarters of the prince bishop to inside the city. He commissioned Neumann to add on to an earlier palace already at the site. Neumann protested and advised that the old palace should be demolished and a new one erected in its place. The family agreed and construction began on the palace on May 22, 1720. Neumann worked on the Residenz for the next thirty-four years with only a brief time during Anselm Franz von Ingelheim when he falls out of favor.
Neumann did collaborate with different artists and architects on the Residenz. One of the more important people being Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. While others did contribute Neumann remained the chief architect and stayed with the project the entire span of his life. The gardens on the palace premises also had many different contributors who worked with Neumann to create an overall awe-inspiring affect.
Würzburg not only got a magnificent palace out of Neumann, but the whole city was redesigned as well. He was the supervisor of civic building within the city. Streets were redone, and homes were revamped to go with the rest of the city. If an owner of a building rebuilt an elaborate façade he received a tax break (Otto, 1of 2).