Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Designs for Three Sconces with Tree Branch Candelabra. Verso: Cover for a vase with leaf design and strigilated border
ca. 1765-1767
Red and brown-red chalk, over black chalk, on paper; verso: black chalk.
9 1/4 x 5 3/16 inches (235 x 132 mm)
Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and gift of Henry S. Morgan.

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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. 42, repr.


This and Morgan drawing inv. 1966.11:103 are preliminary sketches for a clock and sconces that appear in related plates of Piranesi's Diverse Maniere. In the publication, the clock (1966.11:103) is shown beside a timepiece made for Abbondio Rezzonico, while the sconces appear in plate 63 (f. 923) above a table made for Giambattista Rezzonico's apartment in the Quirinal Palace, of which examples survive at the Rijksmuseum and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. This suggests that Piranesi may have intended to produce actual objects corresponding to more the drawings, although none is known to have been executed. Regardless, the sketches represent Piranesi's use of natural forms in design, which he stressed were complementary to forms derived from ancient art.

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.