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August 31, 2009

Cuypers, Petrus J.H. (1827-1921)

Petrus J. H. Cuypers, also known as Pierre Cuypers, was responsible for the design of many churches in neo-Gothic style in the Netherlands, and as such is one of the leading figures in the proces of catholic emancipation in the second half of the 19th century.

He was born in a family where an artistic interest was encouraged. Cuypers’ father was a merchant, as well as a church painter. Beginning in 1844, in a time when education of arts in the Netherlands was at a miserably low level, he studied architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerpen, Belgium. Among his teachers were Frans Andries Durlet, Frans Stoop and Ferdinand Berckmans, pioneers of neo-Gothicism in Belgium. Cuypers completed his study 1849 with the best possible results and returns to Roermond as a celebrity. In 1850 he made a journey through the German Rhineland, where he visited the completion of the cathedral of Cologne. Ca. 1854 he attended classes by the French restoration-architect E.E. Viollet-le-Duc, who became one of Cuypers’ friends and a major influence in his entire career. Back home he became Roermond’s town-architect.

Cuypers was the man who brought craftmanship back in the Netherlands’ architecture. His office became a school for many architects who were taught all skills of the profession. Besides this, he also participated in a factory for religious art, Atelier Cuypers-Stoltzenberg, that provided complete church-interiors and was founded in 1852.
Besides designing new churches and other buildings, Cuypers also was responsible for numerous restorations of existing churches, including those of many medieval, now protestant churches. His attempts to restore parts of such churches back to their original state occasionally was a cause of conflict with the protestant community that used such a church. Apart from his architectural work, Cuypers was a gifted artist in other respects too, and his work includes several important monuments, tapestries and a piano, a gift to his second wife.

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