Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Decorative Shield with Shell Ornament, Signs of the Zodiac, Garland, and Acorn Border. Verso: Platform with steps
ca. 1760-1762
Red chalk, over black chalk, with pen and brown ink, on paper, irregularly cut; verso: black chalk.
5 3/4 x 5 11/16 inches (147 x 146 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.

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Watermark: Anchor in circle, over letter "M", centered on chain line.
Numbered at lower right, inverted, in graphite, "17".

Mrs. J. P. Morgan, New York; by descent to her sons Junius S. Morgan, Princeton and Paris (no mark, see Lugt 1536) and Henry S. Morgan, New York.

Stampfle, Felice. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Dover, 1978, no. 23, repr.


Study for a detail of the etched title page of Piranesi's "Lapides Capitolini sive fasti consulares triumphalesque Romanorum," 1762, (f. 421). The drawing is at essentially the same scale as the corresponding section of the etching, and even if not incised for transfer, the resonance is close enough to suggest that the drawing was a working study for the plate. Benedicte Maronnie has recently recognized that the scheme of zodiac signs separated by standing female figures is taken from the garland that appears on many statues of Diana of Ephesus. In the etching, the acorn border has been discarded and the head of Medusa substituted for the shell motif.
In the same mat as 1966.11:101.

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Design for (work): Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 1720-1778. Lapides Capitolini sive fasti consulares triumphalesque Romanorum.
Morgan, Jane Norton, 1868-1925, former owner.
Morgan, Junius Spencer, 1892-1960, former owner.
Morgan, Henry S. (Henry Sturgis), 1900-1982, former owner.