Eching, Veduto del second’ordine di una parte della calcidica del Foro di Trajano. by Piranesi


Etching as part of a series called “Varie Vedute di Roma Antica e Moderna”, made in 1745. This etching shows the Trajan’s forum in Rome. Made on handmade paper. The image is 20 x 13 cm in size and is in a large passe par tout. The print is in very good condition.

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iovanni Battista (or Giambattista) Piranesi also known as simply Piranesi; October 4, 1720 – November 9, 1778, an Italian artist was known for his etchings of Rome and of fictional and atmospheric “prisons” (Le Carceri d’Invenzione). He was the father of Francesco Piranesi and Laura Piranesi. Piranesi was born in Mogliano Veneto, near Treviso, then part of the Republic of Venice. His father was a stonemason. His brother Andrea aroused his interest in the Latin language and ancient civilization and later became apprenticed to his uncle, Matteo Lucchesi, who was a leading architect in Magistrato delle Acque, the state organization responsible for building and restoring historical buildings.

From 1740 he got the chance to work in Rome as a draftsman for Marco Foscarini, the Venetian ambassador of the new pope Benedict XIV. He lived in the Palazzo Venezia and studied under Giuseppe Vasi, who introduced him to the art of etching and engraving the city and its monuments. Giuseppe Vasi discovered that the talent of Piranesi was not engraving. According to Legrand, Vasi told Piranesi: “You are too much a painter, my friend, to be an engraver.” After his studies with Vasi, he worked with students from the French Academy in Rome on a series of vedute (visions) of the city; his first work was Prima parte di Architettura e Prospettive (1743), followed in 1745 by Varie Vedute di Roma Antica e Moderna.

From 1743 to 1747 he lived mainly in Venice, where, according to some sources, he often visited Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a prominent artist in Venice. It was Tiepolo who extended the restrictive conventions of reproductive, topographical and antiquarian engravings.He then returned to Rome, where he opened a workshop on Via del Corso. In 1748-1774 he created a long series of vedute of the city that established his fame. In the meantime, Piranesi devoted himself to measuring many of the old buildings: this led to the publication of Le Antichità Romane de ‘tempo della prima Repubblica e dei primi imperatori (“Roman antiquities from the time of the first republic and the first emperors “). In 1761 he became a member of the Accademia di San Luca and opened his own printing company. In 1762 the collection of Campo Marzio dell’antica Roma prints was printed.

The following year he was commissioned by Pope Clement XIII to restore the choir of San Giovanni in Laterano, but the work did not come true. In 1764, one of Pope’s cousins, Cardinal Rezzonico, appointed him to start his only architectural works of interest, the restoration of the Church of Santa Maria del Priorato in the Villa of the Knights of Malta, on the Aventine Hill of Rome. He combined certain old architectural elements, trophies and coats of arms, with a Venetian capriciousness for the facade of the church and the walls of the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. This was the only time he expressed himself in real marble and stone.

In 1767, he was named Knight of the Golden Track, allowing him to register “Cav [aliere] Piranesi”. In 1769, his publication of a series of ingenious and sometimes bizarre designs for mantelpiece pieces, as well as an original series of furniture pieces, established his place as a versatile and resourceful designer. In 1776 he created his best-known work as the ‘restorer’ of ancient sculpture, the Piranesi vase, and in 1777-78 he published Avanzi degli Edifici di Pesto (Remains of the buildings of Paestum). He died in Rome in 1778 after a long illness and was buried in the church he had helped restore, Santa Maria del Priorato. His tomb was designed by Giuseppi.