antique prints, maps and watercolors

Trajan's Column from Trofeo o Sia Magnifica... Rome, 1774-79. $18,000.00

TAV III “Veduta del prospetto principale della Colonna Trajana A. Piano modern. B. Linear anticamente indicate sopra lo stesso”

Trajan's column has been standing and studied for more than 1,900 years and it is once again in the news! The April 2015 issue of National Geographic contains and long article on the creation and study of the story told in the sculptured frieze surrounding the column and the controversy surrounding the historical accuracy of the scenes. 

The monumentally sized engravings are displayed in the homes of some of the most famous art collectors and interior designers. The New York Times September 14, 2014 Styles of the Times shows them in the library of Sir John Richardson.

The son of a Venetian stone mason and trained as an architect, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) was naturally attracted to the beauty of the classical ruins in Rome. His keen intellect, skill as an artist and printmaker, eye for detail, knowledge of classical archaeology, and roles as collector and seller of antiquities, combined to make him one of the most famous 18th century printmakers and most influential artists in the development and popularization of the neoclassical style.

Piranesi  is best known by modern day collectors for his two series Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome) and Carceri (Prisons) but the engravings contained in Trofeo o sia Magnifica Colonna are the fitting culmination to a career dedicated to the depiction of the beauty, historic importance, and monumentality of the classical architecture preserved in Rome. He used 6 large copper plates to produce his depiction of the enormous column, the plates were backed with linen and joined to form a scroll nearly 9 feet long, They meticulously record the spiral narrative frieze covering this column dedicated to the memory of the great emperor.

The freestanding column was placed on top of a large pedestal, bringing it to a total height of 125 feet.  A spiral staircase within the shaft contains 185 stairs leading to a viewing platform.  It is thought to have been constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. The column memorializes the Roman Emperor Trajan. The surrounding bas relief frieze depicts in detail the emperor’s victorious battles against the Dacians of southeastern Europe. The Dacians had been a threat to Roman supremacy during Domitian’s reign (81-96 AD). Trajan led the Romans in two successful wars in 101-102 AD and 105-106 AD but there was tremendous loss of life and property on both sides.

The column was erected in 113 AD in Trajan’s Forum near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. In 1587 Pope Sixtus V placed a statue of St. Peter on top of the column. It remains there today. Piranesi’s engraving shows it as it originally appeared with a bronze statue of Trajan. 

Piranesi's engraving of Trajan's column was pictured in Sunday November 3, 2013 New York Times Style Magazine in an "old World" interior created by Studio Peregalli of Milan, Italy. 

Etching and engraving.
Approximately 30 x 115 inches.