Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Scabbard ornament with an animal head and the insignia of the Rezzonico family, for the facade of Santa Maria del Priorato
ca. 1764-1766
Pen and brown ink, over black chalk, on paper.
6 1/4 x 2 13/16 inches (159 x 72 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.
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. 52, repr.


Befitting the military history of the Knights of Malta, Piranesi included many symbols of arms and armor in the decorative scheme for the church. The four large pilasters of the facade, for example, are decorated with swords in scabbards, representing the peaceful retirement of the knightly order. As seen clearly in this drawing, those scabbards are further decorated with portrait medallions and the twin-headed eagle and fortified tower from the coat of arms of the Rezzonico family.
The only other known drawing for the facade of the Priory is British Museum, 1908,0616.34, another scabbard design.

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.