(Column of Marcus Aurelius)
The son of a Venetian stone mason and trained as an architect, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1772) was naturally attracted to the beauty of the classical ruins in Rome. In 1740 he moved to the city and studied with some of the finest print makers. The remarkably high quality of his work brought him to the attention of prominent wealthy English visitors to Rome and he became the most renowned artist/engraver of 18th century Europe. This magnificent large etching was included in Views of Rome, a work heralded for the artist's brilliant use of etched line to capture decorative details and to manipulate light and shadow to communicate the monumentality of his subjects. His etchings greatly influenced Robert Adams and subsequent generations of architects and designers interested in the classical style. They continue to be prized for their beauty as as records of historically important architecture, Smith College is including many Piranesi works in the show "When in Rome" running September 30 - December 30, 2016.
At the time that this etching was made, the place where this column stands, the Piazza Colonna, was the most important square in Rome as it was the center of trade and the professions. The piazza is midway between the Piazza Venezia and the Piazza del Popolo.
Etching on laid paper.
29 ½ x 21 ¾ inches, sheet.
21 5/8 x 15 ¾ inches, plate.
Reference: Hind 52 IV.
First edition , 4th state.
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