Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Architectural fantasy
ca. 1741-1742
Pen and brown ink and wash, over graphite and red chalk, on paper irregularly trimmed along lower edge.
10 9/16 x 16 7/8 inches (270 x 428 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Alice Tully.

Watermark: Fleur-de-lis inside double circle, surmounted by letter V.

P. & D. Colnaghi and Co., London.

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. 26, repr.
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Sixteenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1969-1971. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1973, p. 119.


With a colossal facade, a Pantheon-inspired dome, obelisks, fountains, and a wide stair, this architectural fantasy is similar to the Ancient capital plate in the Prima parte. Yet the monumental scale, with a grandeur bordering on the megalomaniacal, points to Piranesi's first reaction to the magnificence of Roman antiquities. To emphasize the building's size, Piranesi not only added hundreds of miniscule figures populating the scene but also had the main facade stretch to--and be cut off by-the top of the frame, a compositional device he adopted for many of his views of Rome.

Associated names: 

Tully, Alice, 1902-1993, donor.