Plate 9: 'Colonnaded hall according to the custom of the ancient Romans, and niches adorned witn statues' (Sala all'uso degli antichi Romani con colonne, e nicchie ornate di statue), from the series 'Part one of architecture and perspectives: drawn and etched by Gio. Batt'a Piranesi, Venetian Architect: dedicated to Nicola Giobbe' (Prima parte di Architetture, e prospettive inventate, ed incise da Gio. Batt'a Piranesi Architetto Veneziano dedicate al Sig. Nicola Giobbe)
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.