Prison Interior

This sheet is surely a working drawing for a still-unidentified production: its reverse bears a list of scenes that includes the prison setting depicted on the front. Prisons often featured in eighteenth-century theater, but the stairway and gloomy arches of this example are reminiscent of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s famous Carceri d’invenzione (Imaginary prisons). Piranesi was but one of many artists deeply influenced by the Bibienas, a testament to their impact not merely on the theater but far more broadly on European art of the eighteenth century.

Antonio Galli Bibiena (1697–1774)
Prison Interior, ca. 1725–30
Pen and brown ink and wash, over graphite
Promised gift of Jules Fisher