Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Sketch for the altar of Santa Maria del Priorato
ca. 1764-1765
Pen and brown ink on laid paper.
4 5/8 x 4 9/16 inches (118 x 117 mm)
Walter Schatzki, New York.

Adams, Frederick B., Jr. Fourth Annual Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1953, p. 65.
Pierpont Morgan Library. Review of Acquisitions, 1949-1968. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1969, p. 160.
Stampfle, Felice. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Dover, 1978, no. A-5, repr.


Watermark: None.
This is likely Piranesis first sketch for the sculptural high altar of the church, although it already includes most elements of the final design: a sarcophagus as the base and table of the altar, an elaborate superstructure with a medallion (on which a Madonna and Child would be carved), and a depiction of the Apotheosis of St. Basil (the namesake of the order's original church in the Forum of Augustus). The elaborate candelabras flanking the altar call to mind those that Piranesi would later design--both for his own funeral monument and as decorative objects sold to British Grand Tourists--but they were eliminated in the final scheme.

Associated names: 

Schatzki, Walter, 1899-1983, former owner.