Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Six Roman Masks. Verso: Mounted Rider with Shield and Spear and Pedimented Niche
Pen and brown ink on paper; verso: black chalk.
8 x 13 7/16 inches (203 x 342 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.

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Inscribed with initials at upper right, in graphite, "B.P", with line leading from initials to mask at lower right; inscribed on verso, in within niche, in graphite, "Mezzo".

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; Montrǎl : Centre Canadien d'Architecture, 1993, no. 29, repr.


Together with 1966.11:44 and 45, these studies, drawn in Piranesi's late style, also date from his time in Pompeii near the end of his life. The masks are details from the tomb of the Istacidi family, located outside the city's Herculaneum Gate. Some are shown in situ in another of Piranesi's views, a sheet now in Copenhagen. Typical of Piranesi's frugal reuse of paper, the study of three masks is drawn over an assistant's sketch of a sandaled foot.

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.