Chimneypiece drawing versos


Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Preparatory drawing for the Ruins of the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the City of Cori in the Antichità di Cora, 1763
Red and black chalk
The Morgan Library & Museum, Bequest of Junius S. Morgan and Gift of Henry S. Morgan; 1966.11:66 Verso


As all the sheets shown in this wall make clear, Piranesi constantly recycled the paper in his workshop. Drawings of imaginary buildings, studies of ornamental motifs from antiquity, or chimneypiece designs like those on the other sides of these sheets might be kept for decades, to be consulted, reworked, and reused. Other kinds of drawings, however, most notably the studies for views of Rome, were turned over and reused for new ideas. Similarly, proof states of prints were not, in Piranesi’s view, items for collectors, but rather, paper to be reused once refinements were made and the final states of the etchings were set.

This preparatory drawing for Piranesi’s view of the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the City of Cori, a plate in his Antichità di Cora of 1763, is akin to other studies of its type, most of which only survive only as fragments. As with other studies for the views, the schematic nature of the drawing is surprising: Piranesi has carefully transcribed the inscription and the rich Corinthian capital. These are logical decisions given the related plate’s appearance in an archaeological publication. Yet other elements are in a kind of shorthand, as we see in the terracotta tiles of the roof, the projecting beams and flowerpot at the window, and the patchwork peeling of the stucco between the columns.