Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Assistants

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Assistants
Temple of Isis at Pompeii,from Outside the Colonnade
ca. 1776-1777
Reed and quill pens and brown ink, over black chalk on paper.
20 1/2 x 30 3/4 inches (520 x 780 mm)
Gift of Marvin L. Levy.

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Numbered from 1 to 20 throughout, in pen and brown ink; inscribed at lower right, in pen and gray ink, "Vedute di due ale dell'altrio del Tenysio d'Iside . (on the back)"; inscribed on verso, in pen and brown ink, "Vedute di due ale dell'atrio del Tempio d'Iside"; numbered at upper center, "19"; at lower left, "Part 2a Ra / Tev. 120".
Watermark: Scrollwork shield in horizontal format, with sword and trefoil inside, over letter "M", with letter "F" above.

Part of a group of 5 drawings by Piranesi sold in an unidentified country sale in the 1950s; where acquired by William Redford (1913-2004), London; from whom acquired by Hans Calmann (1899-1982), London; sold to John Hewitt (1919-1994), London; supposedly given by Hewitt to "his partner" [possibly John Hunt], according to Hans Calmann [1]; sale Christie's, London, 29 June 1962, lot 41 (acquired by Hartmann); Helene Seiferheld Gallery, New York [2]; Marvin L. Levy. -- ([1]: Unpublished manuscript by Hans M. Calmann, 1976, pp. 37-38, 103; [2]: a label from the old frame of the drawing and correspondence in the Morgan curatorial files suggest that Levy had acquired the drawing from Helene Seiferheld)

Adams, Frederick B., Jr., comp. Thirteenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1963 & 1964. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1964, p. 103.
Pierpont Morgan Library. Review of Acquisitions, 1949-1968. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1969, p. 160.
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. 44, repr.


This study of the Temple of Isis is typical of the drawings Piranesi made during a trip to Pompeii in 1776 or 1777, many of which are collaborative works. In this example, an assistant -- perhaps the architectural draftsman Benedetto Mori, who accompanied Piranesi on the trip -- set out the architectural framework. Piranesi then reworked the sheets, adding the bold hatching and emphasizing certain details. Some of the figures are more likely by Francesco Piranesi.
The Temple of Isis was one of the first major discoveries during the phase of excavation at Pompeii that began in the mid-1760s. There are eight studies of it by Piranesi, with other examples in the British Museum, London, and the Kunstbibliothek, Berlin.

Associated names: 

Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 1720-1778, Workshop of.
Redford, William, 1913-2004, former owner.
Calmann, Hans M., 1899-1982, former owner.
Hewett, Kenneth John, 1919-1994, former owner.
Levy, Marvin L., former owner.