Johann David Steingruber - Johann David Steingruber

Johann David Steingruber (born August 25, 1702 in Wassertrüdingen , † November 5, 1787 in Ansbach ) was the margrave's agricultural inspector and builder of many churches in the Principality of Ansbach . He shaped the margrave style .


The family's roots lie in the Upper Austrian parish of Eferding in the “Ländle ob der Enns ”. There the place name "Steingrub" still indicates the origin of the name. In the middle of the 17th century, members of the family emigrated to Lehmingen and the hamlet of Lochenbach near Oettingen as exiles in the course of the Habsburg Counter-Reformation ; From there a member of the family moved in the next generation to the neighboring Wassertrüdingen. Both Steingruber's father and uncle were bricklayers by trade. After two decades, the Steingruber family was one of the city's dignitaries, including two houses.


Johann David spent his childhood in sheltered circumstances as the only son of a well-to-do family of craftsmen. This probably privileged him for attending the Latin school in Wassertrüdingen. Nothing is known about his school leaving certificate. The young Steingruber embarked on a three to five year bricklayer apprenticeship - probably with his father or uncle. With them he learned not only practical bricklaying and plastering, but also architectural drawing. In accordance with the guild rules of the time, he went on a journey around 1720. He gained experience in the Palatinate city of Mannheim building the palace there - a six-year construction project of the most modern European format. There and in Rastatt he got to know and appreciate the forms of the French baroque.

Even during these “years abroad” he seemed financially able to marry and support his wife and first child. Twelve more followed in the first marriage, five of which, however, died in infancy. When his first wife died in 1766, he married again at the age of 64.

In 1728, at the age of 26, Johann Steingruber applied to the margravial court building department in Ansbach , which required craftsmen to expand the residential palace . He was hired as a “stuccator” and from 1733 on as a “designer”.

While in the first few years he was more likely to be used for manual work such as measuring and staking out, his drawing talent and creativity were soon recognized by Carl Friedrich von Zocha and his successor Leopoldo Retti . In 1733 the list of his independent buildings began, in 1736 he planned and built completely independently. In 1734 he was promoted to agricultural inspector.

The plans and cracks of castle buildings and facade design for entire streets to decoration work show that Steingruber's creative ideas and technical skills reached down to the smallest detail, for example in drafts for banisters, window and chimney profiles as well as altar and pulpit designs.

By 1750 he named about a hundred buildings in a building directory that he had compiled himself. Another hundred construction projects under his direction followed until 1763. At the age of 80, he completed the Großhaslach church. He named 24 churches, 18 towers, 21 schoolhouses or sacristan's houses, 40 parsonages, five breweries, three town halls and four hospitals as new buildings. His numerous private construction contracts are not yet taken into account. In addition to his practical construction activities, publications on architecture theory followed from 1740. His most important and most extensive work Practica bourgeois architecture with examples from his own building practice was published twice between 1763 and 1773.

Herrieder Gate Tower, built by Johann Steingruber in the 18th century

In 1750, Margrave Karl Wilhelm Friedrich appointed him to succeed Rettis as technical director of the newly created margravial building deputation. Promotion to construction director - as Zocha and Retti were - was denied to him as a commoner without a military title. But even so, he was promoted to become the first construction specialist in the margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach. His area of ​​responsibility included all of today's Middle Franconia as well as margravial fiefs in Swabia and Lower Franconia . Sometimes he also exceeded his full-time sphere of activity and built, for example, in the sovereign territory of the Free Imperial City of Nuremberg or in the Duchy of Saxony-Coburg-Saalfeld. With the assumption of office of Margrave Karl Alexander in 1757, the building activity of the farm slowed down due to excessive indebtedness.

Steingruber's idea of ​​the uniformity of urban design such as the harmony of the proportions and the symmetry of the facades shaped and still shaped the image of Ansbach. This is most impressively documented in the design of the streets when the so-called New Town was built. This city expansion measure found its culmination with the building of the Herrieder Tor . This impressive tower enriched the cityscape and is a permanent landmark of Ansbach. Steingruber's handicraft handwriting is unmistakable in many other buildings, as is the case with almost 200 town houses, which were mainly built according to his ideas and designs.

His successful career from simple bricklayer to lordly site manager was very unusual in the 18th century. For more than half a century it was the focus of construction activity in the margrave town of Ansbach. He was the master of the architectural style commonly referred to as the margrave style . Steingruber's spirit left the mark of architecture in Ansbach and its Franconian-Protestant surrounding area, which is still recognizable today, in both the secular and sacred areas . The architect Wilhelm Jeremias Müller learned his trade under Steingruber.

Examples of his buildings

Steingruberhaus in Merkendorf, 1910


  • Johann David Steingruber: Architectural alphabet consisting of 30 cracks , Schwabach 1773, engraved by Johann Christoph Berndt (the Younger) (1755–1798) (Reprint: Architectonisches Alphabeth 1773, edited by Joseph Kiermeier-Debre and Fritz Franz Vogel, Ravensburg: Ravensburger Book publisher 1997)


Commons : Johann David Steingruber - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Eduard Knorr: Johann David Steingruber, a margrave builder of the 18th century. Dissertation, Technical University of Stuttgart 1921.
  • Eugen Maria Hausladen: The church and secular building of the 18th century in the Margraviate of Ansbach. II. The margravial builder Joh. David Steingruber and the Protestant church building. Ansbach: Verlag von C. Brügel & Sohn 1930.
  • Johann David Steingruber. In: Wilhelm Sperl: The Protestant Church Building of the XVIII. Century in the Principality of Brandenburg-Onolzbach. Nuremberg: Verlag Die Egge 1951, pp. 58–68.
  • Josef Maier (editor): Johann David Steingruber 1702–1787 life and work. Memorial exhibition on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the death of the margravial court architect in Ansbach from 29.10. until December 6 , 1987, Ansbach: Hercynia 1987.