Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Sketch of a choir wall for San Giovanni in Laterano, with a sketch of putti. Verso: Sketch for pedimented niche of choir wall and part of a ground plan
ca. 1763-1764
Pen and brown ink, with gray wash, over graphite, on paper; verso: graphite.
13 11/16 x 10 1/4 inches (349 x 260 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.

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Numbered at lower edge, in graphite, "53".
Watermark: Fleur-de-lis inside double circle, monogram "CB" above, centered on chain line.

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. 58, repr.


This quick study for proposed changes to the choir of San Giovanni in Laterano seems to reflect an early idea to expand the pedimented aedicule of the choir wall, eliminating the square panel seen above it in most sketches, and to use a window rather than a medallion in the curving apse. The putti, drawn with the paper turned 180 degrees, do not relate to any of the design schemes seen in the Morgan drawings, but they likely correspond to the angels with garlands and banderoles found in a number of related drawings at Columbia University's Avery Library. Another drawing at the Morgan, inv. 1966.11:110, was once joined to this sheet.

Associated names: 

Morgan, Jane Norton, 1868-1925, former owner.
Morgan, Junius Spencer, 1892-1960, former owner.
Morgan, Henry S. (Henry Sturgis), 1900-1982, former owner.