Giovanni Battista Piranesi and workshop

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi and workshop
Proposed Alteration of San Giovanni in Laterano, with Forechoir and Ambulatory. Verso: Sketch for ground plan of an apse
ca. 1763-1764
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, over graphite, on two sheets of paper pasted together; verso: graphite, gray wash trials.
12 5/8 x 21 5/8 inches (321 x 549 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.


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Inscribed on verso, in pen and brown ink, "Ponte S. Angelo / Teatro di Marcello / Piramde Nuova / Foro di Nerva / Curia Ostilia / Tempio di Cibelle / S. Urbano / Foro di Titto / Portico d'Ottavia / Interno".

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.

Denison, Cara, Myra Nan Rosenfeld, and Stephanie Wiles. Exploring Rome : Piranesi and His Contemporaries. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library; Montréal : Centre Canadien d'Architecture, 1993, no. 31, repr.
100 Master drawings from the Morgan Library & Museum. München : Hirmer, 2008, no. 33, repr. [Kurt Zeitler]


In the mid-seventeenth century, Pope Innocent X commissioned Francesco Borromini to renovate the nave of the ancient Lateran Basilica, and Alessandro Galilei built a new facade in the 1730s under Pope Clement XII. By 1763, another project was underway: Pope Clement XIII commissioned Piranesi to design a new high altar, which soon grew into a scheme to refurbish the entire choir end of the church. Piranesi devised a number of alternate ideas, which survive in the drawings shown here and in a set of finished studies in the Avery Library at Columbia University. This proposal shows an ambulatory added around the choir (at right in the drawing), an idea not developed further in any other extant plan.

Associated names: 

Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 1720-1778, Workshop of.
Morgan, Jane Norton, 1868-1925, former owner.
Morgan, Junius Spencer, 1892-1960, former owner.
Morgan, Henry S. (Henry Sturgis), 1900-1982, former owner.