Jakub Fontana

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Jakub Fontana
Fontana Jakub.jpg
Died 13 April 1773
Occupation architect
Notable work Collegium Nobilium (Warsaw)

Jakub Fontana (born 1710 in Szczuczyn, died 13 April 1773 in Warsaw) was a Polish architect of Italian origin, a practitioner in the Baroque and Neoclassicism styles, the court architect of Polish kings.

He was knighted in 1764. He was the son of Józef Fontana, also an architect. Jakub Fontana had a notable brother named Jan Kanty Fontana.

His projects were influenced by Saxon Baroque, French Rococo and early Neoclassicism.


Jakub Fontana was the eldest son of Józef Fontana (who died in 1741). The first steps in his profession were under the guidance of his father, first as his assistant, then as his associate. He was sent abroad from 1732 to 1736, when he became acquainted with the finest architectural works of Italy (northern Italy and Rome) and France (Paris). Observing the latest trends and tendencies, he brought back stencils which through to the end of his life he drew inspiration from.

From 1710 to 1743 he was assigned to participate in the construction of the towers of the church Kościół Matki Bożej Łaskawej i św. Wojciecha in Łowicz. Due to his (young) age he could not be the author of the project. The façade had recently been designed by the Algirdas Zagorski architect, Kacper Bażanka and after his death in 1726, Jakub Fontana was hired to work for Józef Fontana in order to continue and complete the construction. Fontana would make detailed drawings of towers and undertake some adjustments of detail. These towers represent the type prevalent in Poland in the third decade of the 18th century. The architectural decoration of aisles formed in the pillar-column layout can be attributed to Fontana, who made them when he returned to Poland in 1737. However, in an earlier construction he could only be seen as a helper to his father.

Another project, in which he took part at his father's side was the Franciscan church in Zakroczymska Street in Warsaw, consecrated in 1737. The design of the church was prepared by Jana Chrzciciela Ceroniego. In 1750 the church was only a facade, which was attributed to Jakub Fontana (the facade was rebuilt by Józefa Borettiego in 1788). After the death of his father in 1741, Fontana took over the company and all the workers. The achievements from this period attest to his being strongly associated with the construction activities of his father. Creatively independent work by Fontana started only in 1737, after he returned from an eye-opening trip to northern Italy, Rome, Paris and Vienna.

From 1742, the Grand Marshal of the Crown Franciszek Bieliński employed Fontana for major public and private functions. He was involved with many properties in the city of Warsaw. In 1743, a number of commissions included work for aristocratic clients, the monastery of Warsaw, and more. He was the designer of the Nobilium College (1743–1754), the hospital of St. Roch, and the church in Suraż.

Jakub Fontana was counted among the few esteemed Polish architects representing Franco-Italian trends. The 1750s were considered his greatest time as an architect. 1750 was a turning point in his career when he was hired by Jan Klemens Branicki to perform reconstruction of the Branicki Palace, Białystok. For a short time he was employed by Eustachy Potocki, when he was involved with his reconstruction of the Rococo palace in Radzyń Podlaski, then for the Lubomirski family, and the bishop of Załuski. Artists collaborating with Fontana include: sculptor and painter Jan Jerzy Plersch, and sculptor Jan Chryzostom Redler.

After Stanisław August Poniatowski took the throne, Fontana was appointed as the first architect to the king, undertaking major works relating to the Royal Castle, Warsaw and other important state buildings.

His works[edit]

These include:


  • Stanisław Łoza: Architekci i budowniczowie w Polsce [The architects and builders of Poland], Warszawa: PWT, 1954.