Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
1720-1778
Perspective of massive piers and arches
Pen and brown ink and gray and brown wash, over black chalk, on paper; framing line in pen and brown ink.
7 3/16 x 9 11/16 inches (183 x 246 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.
1966.11:16

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Numbered at lower right, in graphite, "25".
Provenance: 
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.
Bibliography: 

Stampfle, Felice. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Dover, 1978, no. 16, repr.
Dervaux, Isabelle. Drawing connections: Baselitz, Kelly, Penone, Rockburne, and the old masters. New York: Morgan Library & Museum, 2007, p. 31-32 (repr.)

Notes: 

Watermark: Fragment of circle.
Vaulted interiors with thick piers and heavy masonry were part of the standard repertoire of stage designers and architectural draftsman before Piranesi's time. Interiors akin to the one seen here can be found in drawings by Ferdinando Galli Bibiena, Filippo Juvarra, and others. They are often misidentified as prison interiors, even when there is no hint of the building being used for confinement or punishment. Nonetheless, the high arches and shadowy recesses resemble those in the Dark prison plate of the Prima parte. In retrospect, we can see Piranesi considering the kind of spaces that would appear in his Carceri a few years later.

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