Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Assassination Scene
Pen and brown ink and wash, over red chalk.
9 9/16 x 7 5/16 inches (244 x 185 mm)
Thaw Collection.

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Signed (?) at lower left, aprtly on the mount and partly on the drawing, in pen and brown ink, "Piranesi"; inscribed on verso, in pen and brown ink, "B.P.L.No. 116; numbered at center, "15".
Hans M. Calmann, London; from whom acquired in 1951 by John S. Newberry, New York; sale, New York, Parke-Bernet, 30 March 1961, lot 4; Mr. and Mrs. Eugene V. Thaw, New York.

Thaw Catalogue Raisonné, 2017, no. 292, repr.
Stampfle, Felice, and Cara D. Denison. Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene V. Thaw. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1975, no. 54.
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Sixteenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1969-1971. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1973, p. 119
Stampfle, Felice. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Dover, 1978, no. A-3, repr.


Watermark: six-pointed star within circle (close to Heawood 3883).
Possibly during his first trip home to Venice in 1744, but more likely in 1745 at the beginning of his second trip, Piranesi drew a number of figural compositions that seem to indicate an experimental phase in his art. The style of these works was inspired not so much by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, then the leading artist in Venice, as by an older generation of Venetian Baroque masters, such as Antonio Molinari (1655-1704). As with the other drawings in the set, the subject of this scene is not entirely clear, but it is generally read as the assassination of the figure at left. Five of these drawings survive, all the same size and with the same green stain at upper right, suggesting that they were from a single sketchbook.