Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Fantasy of a Magnificent Forum
ca. 1765
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, on paper.
12 15/16 x 9 3/8 inches (329 x 491 mm)
Gift of Janos Scholz.
Spencer's, London; Janos Scholz, New York (no mark; see Lugt S. 2933b).

Stampfle, Felice, and Jacob Bean. Drawings from New York collections. III: The eighteenth century in Italy. New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1971, no. 226, repr.
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Seventeenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1972-1974. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1976, p. 176.
Scholz, János. Italian Master Drawings, 1350-1800, from the János Scholz Collection. New York : Dover, 1976, no. 144, repr.
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. 25, repr.
From Leonardo to Pollock: Master drawings from the Morgan Library. New York: Morgan Library, 2006, cat. no. 26, p. 58-59.


Watermark: letter "P"
By the 1760s, Piranesi had abandoned both the elaborate curves of late Baroque architecture and the irregular lightness of the Venetian Rococo. His later architectural fantasies play instead with conventional forms of ancient Roman architecture--though combined in new, unconventional ways. In this example, a triumphal arch is approached by a monumental stair and surrounded by a colonnade, an arrangement with no real ancient precedent, although it is a scheme found in numerous drawings by Piranesi. The darker, denser ink of this sketch is found in many drawings from the 1760s and corresponds to the moodier late states of the Carceri and other prints of the time.

Associated names: 

Scholz, János, former owner.