SEMPER, GOTTFRIED (1803-1879), German architect and writer on art, was born at Altona on 29th November 1803. His father intended him for the law, but irresist-ible impulse carried him over to art. His e,arly mastery of classical literature led him to the study of classic monu-ments in classic lands, while his equally conspicuous talent for mathematics gave him the laws of form and proportion in architectural design. While a student of law at the university of Gottingen he fell under the influence of K. O. _Muller, and in after years followed closely in his foot-steps. Semper's architectural education was canied out successively in Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, in Pans under Gau, and in Munich under Giirtner ; afterwards he visited Italy and Greece. In 1834 he was appointed professor of architecture in Dresden, and during fifteen years received many important commissions from the Saxon court. He built the opera-house, which made his fame, the new museum and picture gallery, likewise a synagogue. In 1848 his turbulent-spirit led him to side with the revolu-tion against his royal patron ; he furnished the rebels with military plans, and was eventually driven into exile. Semper came to London at the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the prince consort found him an able ally in carrying out his plans. He \vas appointed teacher of the principles of decoration ; and his lectures in manuscript, preserved in the art library, South Kensington, deserve to be better known. He was also employed by the prince consort to prepare a design for the Kensington Museum ; he likewise made the drawings for the Wellington funeral car. In 1853 Semper left London for Zurich on his appoint-ment as professor of architecture, and with a commission to build in that town the polytechnic school, the hospital, &rt. In 1870 he was called to Vienna to assist in the great architectural projects since carried out round the Ring. A year later, after an exile of over twenty years, he received a sununons to Dresden, on the rebuilding of the first opera-house, which had been destroyed by fire in 1869; his second design was a modification of the first. The closing years of his life were passed in comparative tranquillity between Venice and Rome, and in the latter city he died on 15th May 1879.
Semper's style was a growth from the classic orders through the Italian Cinque Cento. He forsook the base and. rococo forms he found rooted in Germany, and, reverting to the best historic examples, fashioned a purer Renaissance. He stands as a leader in the practice of polychrome, since widely diffused, and by his writings and example did much to reinstate the ancient union between archi-tecture, sculpture, and painting. Among his numerous literary works are (Aber Polychrontie 2G. ihren Urgrung (1851), Die An-wendung der Farben in der Architatur u. Plastik bci den Alten, Der Stil in den tcchnischen u. tektonischen Kilusten (1860-63). His Notes of Lectures on, Practical dirt in. Metals and Hard Materials : its Technology, History, and Style, remains in MS. His teachings are sometimes encumbered by speculations reaching far beyond the domain of his art.