Ferdinand von Quast was born near Neuruppin in Brandenburg. He graduated from the Construction Academy in Berlin, where he was a student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. He was interested in old architecture, especially medieval. He conducted pioneering activities in the field of inventory and care of monuments. Thanks to his involvement, in 1843, at the behest of King Frederick William IV, the post of conservator of monuments was created in the Kingdom of Prussia, where Quast remained until his death.

The conservator stayed in Malbork in 1844 and 1848. He came here not only as an inspector, at the invitation of the construction manager August Gersdorff, but also to get acquainted with this extraordinary work of architecture. Thanks to a tour of the castle by Gersdorff and showing the effects of all the restoration works carried out so far, Quast got to know the monument and its history in detail. On the basis of his research and observations, he prepared a text, published in 1849-1850, where, unfortunately, he criticized the methods of work and the effects of rebuilding the castle, especially in the 1840s. Among other things, he wrote about “a beautifying restoration that keeps an advantage in Malbork”. As an example he pointed to the top of the chapel of St. Lawrence, which was built in too decorative forms, without understanding the gothic forms.

The fierce criticism of Ferdinand von Quast saved the castle from further efforts of new builders to embellish the architecture. His writings, not only about Malbork, introduced a new quality in reading architecture and built a conservative approach to the renovated monuments. Designs for the castle and above all the proposal to reconstruct the gothic cloister of the northern wing of the High Castle, which became the starting point for the next generation of Malbork restorers (especially for Steinbrecht) to resume the reconstruction work.

(compiled by A. Dobry)

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