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Piranesi

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, famous for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric "prisons" (Le Carceri d'Invenzione), was born in Veneto, the Republic of Venice in a family of stonemasons and architects. He was apprenticed of his uncle, who was a leading architect in Magistrato delle Acque, the state organization responsible for engineering and restoring historical buildings.

From 1740, he worked in Rome as a draughtsman for Marco Foscarini, the Venetian ambassador. He worked with pupils of the French Academy in Rome to produce a series of vedute (views) of the city. From 1743 to 1747 he was back in Venice where he often visited Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

In 1748–1774, back in Rome, he created a series of vedute of the city which established his fame. In 1761 he became a member of the Accademia di San Luca and opened a printing facility of his own.

He died in Rome in 1778, and was buried in the church he had helped restore, Santa Maria del Priorato. His tomb was designed by Giuseppi Angelini.
The ancient Capitol ascended by approximately one hundred steps . . . (Campidoglio antico a cui si ascendeva per circa cento gradini . . .)
1699
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211 Media in collectionpage 2 of 3

Frontispiece: Prima Parte di Architetture,e Prospettive

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

View of the Flavian Amphitheater, called the Colosseum, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views), part II

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The Piazza del Popolo (Veduta della Piazza del Popolo)

Until the construction of railways in Rome in the nineteenth century, visitors entered the city through the Piazza del Popolo. The area acquired its monumental profile under Pope Sixtus V, who oversaw the const... more

View of the Fountainhead of the Acqua Paola on Monte Aureo, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

View of the Fountainhead of the Acqua Felice...., from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The Piazza della Rotonda, with the Pantheon and Obelisk (Veduta della Piazza della Rotonda)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The smaller harbor, called the Porto di Ripetta (Veduta del Porto di Ripetta)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

View of the Palazzo Odeschali, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The Fontana dell'Aqua Giulia (Vedute dell avanzo del Castello del'Aqua Giulia)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

View of the Port of Ripa Grande, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Means by which the large blocks of travertine and marble were lifted during the construction of the large Tomb of Caecilia Metella, from Le Antichità Romane (Roman Antiquities), tome 3, tavola 53

While Piranesi was at work on the Antichità Romane, the result of years of research into the highly developed engineering skills of the Romans, the first threats to Roman preeminence were heard. In the early 17... more

The Temple of Vespasian and Titus (Veduta del Tempio di Giove Tonante)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The Pyramid of Gaius Cestius, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Plan of Rome..., from Le Antichità Romane (Roman Antiquities)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The Temple of Vespian (Veduta del Tempio di giove Tonante)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Plan of the Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella, wife of the Triumvir Marcus Crassus..., from Le Antichità Romane (Roman Antiquities), tome 3, tavola 49

While Piranesi's 'Vedute' record the present appearance of the relics of antiquity, he also dug deeper, investigating the engineering feats of the ancient Romans and attempting to reconstruct the former appeara... more

View of the Mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian (now called Castel S. Angelo) from the rear, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Piranesi's earliest views of Rome, such as the Piazza del Popolo (37.45.3.49), had placed the principal buildings at the back of a vast, tilted space, filled with a diversity of human activity. By the mid-1750s... more

The Arch of Septimius Severus (Arco di Severo, e Caracalla)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The Theatre of Marcellus (Teatro di Marcello)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Coat of Arms of Clement XIII (Rezzonico)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The Arch of Septimius Severus, with the Church of S. Martina on the right (Arco di Settimio Severo)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The Arch of Titus (Veduta dell'Arco di Tito)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

View of the fountainhead and the Grotto of Egiria outside the Porta Capena

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Veduta interna dell'Atrio del Portico di Ottavia (Internal View of the Atrium of the Portico of Octavia), in: 'Vedute di Roma' (Views of Rome)

This view places the spectator within the best preserved section of the complex of colonnades originally built in the Republican era and later restored by Emperor Augustus, who dedicated the portico to his sist... more

View of the Temple of the Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The tomb of Caecilia Metella, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

The so-called Temple of Salus, on the road to Albano (Tempio antico volgarmente detto della Salute)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

A view of part of the intended Bridge at Blackfriars, London

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

A view of part of the intended Bridge at Blackfriars, London

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Della Magnificenza e d'Architettura de' Romani (On the Grandeur and the Architecture of the Romans by Gio. Battista Piranesi, Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of London)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi's 'Della Magnificenza e d'Architettura de' Romani' was a contribution to the continuing debate as to whether Greek art and architecture was superior to that of Rome. In the 1750s, in... more

The so-called Grotto of Egeria (Veduta della fonte e delle spelonche d'Egeria fuor della Porta Capena)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

S. Giovanni in Laterano. Interior

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Chimneypiece: Affronted griffons on the lintel and candelabra on the jambs (Ch. accompagnée de son plan et décorée d'une frise de griffons), from Diverse Maniere d'adornare i cammini ed ogni altra parte degli edifizi...(Different Ways of ornamenting chimneypieces and all other parts of houses)

Although Giovanni Battista Piranesi is best known for his capricious, often ruinous landscape compositions, architecture and interior design formed an important part of his theoretic and artistic life’s work. I... more

Chimneypiece in the Egyptian style, from Diverse Maniere d'adornare i cammini (...) (Different Ways of ornamenting chimneypieces and all other parts of houses)

The lengthy essay that opens the 'Diverse maniere' is dedicated to Cardinal Rezzonico, nephew of Pope Clement XIII and one of Piranesi's ardent supporters, but is clearly intended for a wide audience, given the... more

Hadrian's Villa: The Canopus (Avanzi del Tempio Dio Canopo nella Villa Adriana in Tivoli)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Chimneypiece: Architrave decorated with a Greek key motif and a circular fireback with figures of the zodiac (Ch. décorée d'une grecque), from Diverse Maniere d'adornare i cammini ed ogni altra parte degli edifizi...(Different Ways of ornamenting chimneypieces and all other parts of houses)

Although Giovanni Battista Piranesi is best known for his capricious, often ruinous landscape compositions, architecture and interior design formed an important part of his theoretic and artistic life’s work. I... more

View of the Piazza di monte Cavallo, from Vedute di Roma (Roman Views)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Title page, from Trofeo o sia Magnifica Colonna Coclide...(The Trophy or Magnificent Spiral Column)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Veduta dell'Anfiteatro Flavio detto il Colosseo, from: 'Vedute di Roma' (Views of Rome)

Piranesi's thorough familiarity with the Colosseum—he had already produced three views of this most famous of Roman ruins—and his skill at perspective rendering allowed him to produce this magnificent view of t... more

The Octagonal Room in the Small Baths at the Villa of Hadrian (Tivoli).

The Venetian Piranesi was active as a draftsman, designer, architect, archaeologist, and theorist, but it is as a printmaker that he achieved his most enduring fame. His technically brilliant and exceedingly in... more

View through the Herculaneum Gate, Pompeii

Giovanni Battista Piranesi is recognized for his vast and magnificent legacy of archaeological and topographical etchings of Rome and southern Italy. In his last years he was captivated by the antiquities of Po... more

Vasi, candelabri, cippi, sarcofagi, tripodi, lucerne, ed ornamenti antichi disegnati ed incisi dal Cav. Gio. Batt. Piranesi, Vol. I (Vases, candelabra, grave stones, sarcophagi, tripods, lamps, and ornaments designed and etched by Cavalieri Giovanni Battista Piranesi)

The plates that comprise the Vasi, candelabri cippi, sarcofagi, tripodi, lucerne, ed ornamenti antichi disegnati ed incisi dal Cav. Gio. Batt. Piranesi were originally issued as individual etchings. In 1778, t... more

Perspective view of the same candelabrum, from 'Vasi, candelabri, cippi, sarcofagi, tripodi, lucerne, ed ornamenti antichi, vol. II' (Vases, candelabra, grave stones, sarcophagi, tripods, lamps, and ornaments)

This elaborate candelabrum, now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, represents one of Piranesi's more creative "restorations." Produced during a period when Piranesi was collaborating with the Scottish painter G... more

"Dark Prison (Carcere Oscura)"

Turner copied this view of an imaginary prison interior from an etching by the Italian printmaker, architect, archaeologist, art theorist, and designer Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778). Like other scenes ... more