Today is the birthday of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, born on 4 October 1720 in Mogliano near Mestre. The Italian printmaker and designer is best known for his prints of ancient and contemporary Rome and his series of imaginary prisons. Famous for his views, real or imagined, Piranesi was known as the greatest “vedutista” (view-maker) in Rome by midcentury.
Reference: John Wilton-Ely. “Piranesi, Giovanni Battista.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T067810>.
Further reading: Piranesi the Complete Etchings by Luigi Ficacci (2001).
View of the Flavian Amphitheater known as the Colosseum, etching, 1776. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959, 59.570.426.
The Piazza del Popolo, etching, ca. 1750. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937, 37.45.3(49).
The Round Tower, from Carceri d’invenzione (Imaginary Prisons), etching, engraving, sulphur tint or open bite, burnishing; first state of four, ca. 1749-50. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937, 37.45.3(27).