Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Design for a capital or bracket with a dolphin motif. Verso: Architectural fragment with sphinx heads and putti
ca. 1760
Red chalk, over black chalk, on paper; verso: red chalk over black chalk.
4 x 9 inches (103 x 230 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.

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Numbered at lower right, in graphite, "29".

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. 21, repr.


On same mat as 1966.11:22; 23.
Together with 1966.11:22, and 40, these decorative motifs all appear in the plates of Piranesi's Della magnificenza ed Architettura de' Romani (On the Grandeur and the Architecture of the Romans), a polemical compendium of ancient Roman ornaments published in 1761 to combat the growing taste for the purity of Greek architecture. Piranesi admired the variety and license with which the Romans had applied ornament to various architectural forms. He himself used designs such as the grotesque head (copied from an ancient capital) and the dolphin not only on architectural capitals or brackets but also as decorative motifs in mantelpieces and other objects.

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Design for (work): Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 1720-1778. Della magnificenza e d'architettura de' Romani.
Morgan, Jane Norton, 1868-1925, former owner.
Morgan, Junius Spencer, 1892-1960, former owner.
Morgan, Henry S. (Henry Sturgis), 1900-1982, former owner.