Piranesi, Giovanni Battista (1720-1778)

"Piranesi, Giovanni Battista (1720-1778)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Italian engraver, etcher and architect, was born in Maiano di Mestre in 1720 and died in Rome in 1778. After a first period of studies in Venice, he went to Rome in 1740 where remained for nearly all of his life, except short sojourns in Naples and Venice (1744-1745), Pompei and Ercolano (1770), Paestum (1777). The first cycle of engravings Prima parte di architetture e prospettive where architectonic fantasies are based on Venetian architecture, was published in 1743 and in 1750 with the denomination Opere varie di architettura (Various works of architecture).

In the same year were issued Grotteschi o Capricci designed in 1745 where could be noticed the influence of contemporary French architectonic models. In 1748 Piranesi began work over the famous Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome). In the beginning these representations of the principal Roman monuments were not planned as a cycle, but their execution and publication continued till 1775 covering nearly 30 years of life of the master, which became his greatest work. In 1743 another series of fantastic internal views was born and published in 1760 with the name Carceri d'invenzione (Prisons of invention). At the same time as a result of continuous studies of Roman monuments and surroundings, Piranesi published engravings dedicated to Ancient Rome (1756) and to Magnificence and architecture of Romans (Magnificenza et architettura de'romani) (1761).

With the "Diverse maniere d'adornare i camini ed ogni altra parte degli edifici" (Different modes of adorning of fire places and every other part of the building), a kind of guide with the models of architecture of interior in neoclassic style, Piranesi showed himself also as a great expert and appraiser of Etruscan and Egyptian art. The other work where Etruscan designs also appeared was Parere su l'Architettura (1765). His last work "Vasi, candelabri, cippi..." (1778) is a collection of typical elements and themes of neoclassic decoration.
As an architect Piranesi realized in 1764-1766 a great complex construction on the Aventine Hill in Rome including Piazza, Villa and Chiesa of the Knights of Malta.

The artist played one of the most important roles in development of neoclassicism in Europe.
piranesi ripa
(Pictured: "Veduta del porto di Ripa Grande")

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