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Piranese's view of the Campidoglio

Veduta della Piazza del Campidoglio.
PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista
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733 by 512mm. (28.75 by 20.25 inches).


First state before numbers, etching on 2 sheets joined, (image size 688 x 441 mm), full margins showing the plate mark, on laid paper with a fleur-de-lis in single circle watermark, 2 cm tear at base of join, remnants of binders glue to left-hand edge.
733 x 512 (approx. 29 x 20.25 inches).


A fine, early and wide-margined impression of Piranese's masterful view of the Campidoglio.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) was the premier engraver of 18th century Italy, as highly regarded during his lifetime as he is today. He was born in Venice and moved to Rome in 1740, where he produced thousands of prints throughout his career. However, Rome was more than just his home –it was his most faithful subject. Piranesi tirelessly and exactingly recorded the details of its architectural monuments, both antique and modern, landscapes and inhabitants in his remarkable series of views. The precision with which he recorded architectural and topographical details allows us to see us Rome much as it was in the 18th century. As such, Piranese's prints are invaluable resources for the study of the Rome's development, as well as masterpieces of the art of engraving.

Piranesi's large-scale print, Veduta della Piazza del Campidoglio, shows one of Rome's most important city centers. Located on the top of the Capitoline hill, the site housed a series of antique temples that had been entirely replaced with newer monumental structures built between the 12th and 18th centuries. However, the Piazza, elegantly designed by Michelangelo, is centered on an antique equestrian bronze of Marcus Aurelius that harks back to the site's ancient roots. Piranesi's etching shows the Campidoglio in the late afternoon. An atmospheric sky casts a long dark shadow across the foreground, contrasting starkly with the brightly lit piazza. People of all social standings, from aristocrats in carriages to poor salesmen hauling baskets of goods, populate the scene and add to its realistic qualities. The monumental buildings that surround the piazza and dwarf the bystanders are rendered in exquisite detail – a testament to the prowess of the artist who is capable of stunning us with his virtuosity.


Provenance: Private collection, New York


Hind 111.1.