Who was Santini?
Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel (born 3 February 1677 in Prague – died 7 December 1723 in Prague) was a renowned Czech architect of Italian origin (His grandfather Antonin Aichel moved from Italy to Prague in the 1630s), he became famous by Baroque gothic style. In 1705, he bought Valkounský house (no. 211) in Nerudova street for 3000 gold coins in cash and rebuilt it. 300y later you have the opportunity to stay in the same palace!
He was born on St. Blažej's day as the oldest son to a respectable family of a Prague stonemasons, Santini Aichel and was christened in the St. Vitus Cathedral as Jan Blažej Aichel. He was born with a physical disability – paralysis of a half of his body. This prevented him from a successful follow-up to his father's career. He only served his time of apprenticeship (as did his brother František), but he also studied painting from the imperial and royal painter Kristián Schröder.
Around 1696 he started to travel and gain experience. After his journey through Austria he arrived in Rome, Italy, where he had the possibility to meet with the work of a radical architect, Francesco Boromini. Borromini's influence is apparent in his predilection for star-shaped forms and complex symbolism. Many of his buildings are airy and elegant, yet he was considered a maverick genius by his contemporaries and exerted little influence on subsequent generations of Bohemian architects. It was in Italy where Santini incorporated into his name his father's name, Santini.
In 1700 Santini started to design independently and to build, which ensured his own income, he then became a member of one craft guild and founded his own construction company.
Santini married Schröder's daughter (Veronika Alžběta) in 1707. They had four children, but all three sons died from tuberculosis at an early age; the only child left was Anna Veronika (* 1713). Santini's wife died seven years later and he re-married a South Bohemian noblewoman, Antonie Ignatie Chrapická from Mohliškovice whereby Santini was ennobled. Daughter Jana Ludmila and son Jan Ignác Rochus were born from this marriage.
Santini acquired the style of J. B. Mathey and after his death also finished several works of him. In 1705, he bought Valkounský house (no. 211) in Nerudova street for 3000 gold coins in cash and rebuilt it. Santini became a well-known person, but unfortunately, he died at a fairly young age of 47 and some of his works therefore remained unfinished.