The work of the architect Pietro Nobile (1774–1854) influenced Classicist architecture in Istria, Austria and Bohemia. His works and the professional positions he held roughly until the bourgeois revolution of 1848 fundamentally shaped the development of architecture in the Habsburg Empire. This research project focuses on Nobile’s conception of Classicism, which combines a polytechnic approach with the architectural theories of Vitruvius, Palladio and Vignola. Remarkably, this conception of architecture contributed to the development of early historicism and yet also motivated the rejection of Nobile’s work by subsequent generations.

Nobile was trained in Rome at a time when Italy was strongly influenced by the Napoleonic style. In 1811, he entered the service of Emperor Francis II/I and from 1818 onwards he spent approximately three decades as the director of the School of Architecture of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

Hitherto, art history on Pietro Nobile has mainly concentrated on his Italian works, while his works in Austria, Bohemia and other Habsburg lands have largely remained neglected. As an educator, Nobile advocated a conception of Classicism the specific qualities of which were extremely influential for other buildings of his time but have largely been overlooked by scholars. Hence the present research project seeks to characterise the local background to Nobile’s works especially in Italy, Austria and Bohemia in order to understand his adversaries’ reactions to his efforts to introduce principles of polytechnic practice to academic education.

Furthermore, the project aims to examine various perspectives on the phenomenon of Pietro Nobile, to complete the index of his works and to trace his influence on the development of early historicism. This research on the different forms of Classicism will enable a better understanding of the development and expression of Classicist architecture in the Habsburg Empire.