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Plate 8: Arch of Drusus at the Porta S. Sebastiano in Rome (Arco di Druso alla Porta di Sebastiano in Roma)


Plate 8: Arch of Drusus at the Porta S. Sebastiano in Rome (Arco di Druso alla Porta di Sebastiano in Roma)



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

Public domain photograph of engraving print depicting monument, free to use, no copyright restrictions image - Picryl description

A veduta, plural vedute, is a highly detailed, usually large-scale painting or, more often print, of a cityscape or some other landscape. The painters of vedute are referred to as vedutisti. Veduta was introduced by northern European artists, most likely Flanders who worked in Italy, such as Paul Brill (1554–1626), a landscape painter who produced a number of marine views and scenes of Rome that were purchased by visitors. Among the most famous of the vedutisti are four Venetians. Canaletto was probably the greatest of the vedutisti, produced Venetian architecture works. Giacomo Guardi (1678–1716), Giannantonio Guardi (1699–1760), and Francesco Guardi (1712–93), also produced a great number of views of Venice. Giovanni Pannini (c. 1691–1765/68) was the first artist to concentrate on painting ruins.

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.

Renaissance representation of classical ruins was a symbol of antiquity, enlightenment, and lost knowledge. Ruins spoke to the passage of time. The greatest subject for ruin artists was the overgrown and crumbling Classical Rome remains. Forum and the Colosseum, Pantheon, and the Appian Way. Initially, art representations of Rome were realistic, but soon the imagination of artists took flight. Roman ruins were scattered around the city, but frustrated artists began placing them in more pleasing arrangements. Capriccio was a style of imaginary scenes of buildings and ruins.

Printmaking in woodcut and engraving came to Northern Italy within a few decades of their invention north of the Alps. Engraving probably came first to Florence in the 1440s, the goldsmith Maso Finiguerra (1426–64) used the technique. Italian engraving caught the very early Renaissance, 1460–1490. Print copying was a widely accepted practice, as well as copying of paintings viewed as images in their own right.

Originally, the site of the Roman Forum was a lake where waters from the surrounding hills drained. Because of its location, sediments from the erosion of the surrounding hills have been raising the level of the Forum floor for centuries. The low-lying wetland of the Forum was drained in the 7th century BC with the building of the Cloaca Maxima. Roman Forum developed gradually, over many centuries. Forum's long dimension extended from the foot of the Capitoline Hill to that of the Velian Hill. The Forum included a square, the buildings facing it, and, sometimes, an additional area (the Forum Adjectum) extending southeast as far as the Arch of Titus. The Forum functioned as an open-air market but eventually outgrew its marketplace role: political speeches, civil trials, and other public affairs dominated the Forum. An important function of the Forum was to serve as the culminating venue for the Triumphs. Victorious generals entered the city by the western Triumphal Gate (Porta Triumphalis) and circumnavigated the Palatine Hill (counterclockwise) before proceeding from the Velian Hill down the Via Sacra and into the Forum. In 600 BC Forum area was paved for the first time. The earliest basilicas (large, aisled halls) were introduced to the Forum in 184 BC by Marcus Porcius Cato, which began the process of "monumentalizing" the site. In the 80s BC, major work was done on the Forum including the raising of the plaza level by almost a meter and the laying of permanent marble paving stones. During early Imperial times, the economic and judicial business transferred away from the Forum. In the 5th Century AD Rome's population fell from 750,000 to 250,000. The populated areas contracted to leave Forum more or less intact. On 1 August 608, the Column of Phocas, a Roman monumental column, was erected. This proved to be the last monumental addition made to the Forum. By the 8th century, the Forum was surrounded by Christian churches taking the place of the abandoned temples falling apart at that time. During the Middle Ages, its location was called the "Campo Vaccino" or "cattle field." The structures of the Forum were dismantled and used to build towers and castles within the local area, the site became a dumping ground and a quarry for new buildings including the new Saint Peter's Basilica. The papal authorities eventually demolished many medieval structures on the site, to reveal and better display the ancient monuments. The Roman Forum has been a source of inspiration for artists for centuries.



1600 - 1700


Metropolitan Museum of Art

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giovanni battista piranesi
giovanni battista piranesi