Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Design for mantelpiece with a vase between volutes. Verso: Sketch for ornament with notes for the text of the "Diverse Maniere"
ca. 1765-1767
Pen and brown ink on paper; extraneous marks in black chalk; verso: black chalk, inscriptions in pen and brown ink.
7 13/16 x 16 9/16 inches (198 x 420 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.

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Inscribed at upper left, in pen and brown ink, "mano bianco // spugna / paragone nero"; on lintel, "porfido"(twice); on jamb, "porfido"; at right, "profil[e] / nati (?)".
Watermark: Fleur-de-lis inside double circle, with monogram "CB" above circle.

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. 84, repr.


Drawing appears to have been done on the verso of a sheet of notes in pen and brown ink dealing with Etruscan vases. It appears to be notes for the text of "Diverse maniere d'adornare i cammini," 1769; see entry cited below for full transcription.
Piranesi's inscriptions on this drawing remind us that etchings and drawings could not always capture the full scope of his designs: the notes indicate that rather than merely a white relief, the mantelpiece was conceived as a mix of white marble, black slate, porphyry, and other materials. The reverse of the sketch has Piranesi's manuscript commentary on Etruscan vases, which served as part of the ideological underpinning of the Diverse maniere.

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Design for (work): Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 1720-1778. Diverse maniere d'adornare i cammini.
Morgan, Jane Norton, 1868-1925, former owner.
Morgan, Junius Spencer, 1892-1960, former owner.
Morgan, Henry S. (Henry Sturgis), 1900-1982 former owner.