The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf

14 July 1778   Tuesday
. . . . . .

Artifacts of the Bianconi vs Piranesi 'Circus of Caracalla' affair   1772-1789

Giovanni Lodovico Bianconi's "Elogio Storico del Cavaliere Giovanni Battista Piranesi Celebre Antiquario ed Incisore de Roma" (1779)

paragraph three
In mezzo a queste occupazioni, che poco o nulla gli fruttavano, vennegli improvvisa voglia di ritornare a Venezia per mettersi sotto il celebre Tiepoletto, di cui faceva, e giustamente, gran caso. Ma la naturale sua incostanza lo fece ripartire quasi subito dalla sua patria che, come tant’altri, egli non istimava che quando più non v’era; così eccocelo ritornato ben presto in Roma. Qui pure nuovamente s’annoiò, e andò a studiare la pittura in Napoli, quasi che, per formare un giovane pittore, Luca Giordano e il Solimena valessero più di Tiziano e di Rafaello. Napoli in breve gli divenne anch’esso insopportabile, perché il Piranesi non era nato pittor di figure, né v’era scuola capace a farlo divenir tale. I poeti ed i pittori nascono, e lo studio non fa che svilupparli e perfezionarli.
In the midst of these occupations, which paid him little or nothing, he suddenly felt the desire to return to Venice to put himself under the famous Tiepoletto, of whom he rightly made a great case. But his natural inconstancy made him leave his homeland almost immediately, which, like so many others, he did not esteem until when it was no longer there; so here we are soon back in Rome. Here too he became bored again, and went to study painting in Naples, almost as if, in training a young painter, Luca Giordano and Solimena were worth more than Titian and Rafaello. Naples soon became unbearable for him too, because Piranesi was not born a painter of figures, nor was there a school capable of making him so. Poets and painters are born, and study only develops and perfects them.

paragraph four
Ritornato da Napoli in Roma il Piranesi cominciò seriamente a pensare a’ casi suoi, e di tutte le parti del disegno che egli avea assaggiate, si determinò all’incisione in rame, sulla quale fece assidui studi per riuscire dal comune e per trovare un far nuovo. L’ottima riuscita, che egli vi fece, gli mostrò che questa era la sua vocazione e da quel momento non lasciò più l’acquaforte, o bulino, e Roma divenne la sua patria. Le belle vedute sì antiche, che moderne di questa superba capitale, quantunque cento volte incise da altri, furono il soggetto che egli scelse per farsi onore. A forza di chiari oscuri, e d’una certa franchezza pittoresca che egli seppe introdurvi, arrivò a dare alle sue stampe un effetto tutto nuovo, anzi una specie di magia che prima non si era mai conosciuta. Se dovessimo compararlo a qualche altro artefice, non sapremmo dire se non che egli è il Rembrand delle antiche rovine. Infinito fu lo spaccio che ebbero subito per l’Europa queste sue opere, anche per l’interesse che egli sapea dare sino ai più piccoli oggetti da lui rappresentati, sicché parve a tutti che allora per la prima volta si cominciassero a conoscere bene dai lontani le Antichità Romane. Dico dai lontani, perché chi era sul luogo non trovava sempre che questo interesse, questo calore corrispondessero al vero, benché piacesse infinitamente a noi pure una sì bella infedeltà.
Returning from Naples to Rome, Piranesi began seriously to think about his cases, and of all the parts of the drawing that he had tasted, he determined himself to copper engraving, on which he made assiduous studies to succeed from the common and to find a far new. The excellent success that he made there showed him that this was his vocation and from that moment he never left the etching, or burin, and Rome became his homeland. The beautiful ancient and modern views of this superb capital, although engraved a hundred times by others, were the subject that he chose to make himself honour. By dint of chiaroscuro, and a certain picturesque frankness that he knew how to introduce, he came to give his prints an entirely new effect, indeed a kind of magic that had never been known before. Were we to compare him to any other craftsman, we could only say that he is the Rembrand of the ancient ruins. Infinite was the marketing that these works of his had immediately throughout Europe, also due to the interest that he was able to give down to the smallest objects he represented, so that it seemed to everyone that then for the first time they began to get to know well from the distant the Roman Antiquities. I say from far away, because those who were on the spot did not always find that this interest, this warmth corresponded to the truth, although that such a beautiful infidelity pleased us infinitely.

14 July 1789
Bastille Day

46 y.o. Francesco Piranesi 1804
Le Antichità della Magna Grecia   Parte I

Interior view of the Cavedium, or Courtyard of the Surgeon's House, in its present state, at Pompeii.
Drawn by G.B. Piranesi
Engraved by F. Piranesi Year 12 (1804)

14 July 1812   Tuesday

Morning misty cloud, wind SWerly damp but warm. This forenoon the motion was argued and appeared to me the most ill founded and absurd objection I had ever heard; no decision. I dined at SL's. He and J.... and Jepe[?] Williams went to Chester County on a shooting party at Squirrels to stay till tomorrow. I was twice downtown yesterday and today, much fatigued.

14 July 1999
homo ludens and the Ichnographia
There are certain passages within Homo Ludens that relate to Piranesi's "play" of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, especially with regard to reenactment, the Scenographia, and the double theater. There are also connections between ritual and play that relate to the Triumphal Way.

14 July 2001
one very Philadelphian daze

R and S. and L. where in town. I met R. and L. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while S. went to Temple University's campus to take site analysis pictures. L., R. and I toured the VSBA exhibit [Out of the Ordinary] together...

...and then attended the Venturi and Scott Brown tribute symposium in the museum auditorium. There were three speakers: the president of the University of Michigan, the present resident of the Vanna Venturi House, and Vincent Scully. I like going to architecture talks; it reminds of my school days, and they go with my thinking (which is obsessed with just thinking about architecture more and more the older I get--I don't build architecture, I just think it). At the very end of the symposium Scott Brown got up and publicly told Scully he was totally wrong about her role in the 'Venturi' history. Then she shot him with a pistol--just kidding. Denise is now my heroin[e].
Then I got to tell my Charlie Rose Show last Friday night story. The CRShow was on the two Mies exhibits in NYC--Phyllis Lambert, Barry Bergdoll and Paul Goldburger were guests. I said, "You can tell that Lambert isn't used to being asked to clarify herself. Rose would ask her something about Mies and she would roll out the usually clichés--like God on a mountain and all that. Then Rose would ask her to elaborate. Lambert then flinched and paused at the same time, and then snapped 'WHAT?!?!'" She did that three time within the hour show. It really made me laugh each time.

Steve Izenour was wearing a cap. It said UGLY AND ORDINARY. I guess it pays to advertise, and don't you just love the high art of museum shops? Oh yes, there was a book signing...
At the book-signing after the VSBA symposium at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I told Robert Venturi, "You're the reason I often visit Stenton."
"Stenton!? I love Stenton."
"I know. You said it was one of your favorite Philadelphia buildings in a Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday magazine piece in the mid-eighties."
"Oh. You forget about things like that."
Well, Venturi and Scott Brown just love L., and swooped her off to lunch/dinner, while R. and I had to go meet up with the other S. in Center City--that's when we cafe-ed it.
I still don't have a cellular phone, but I love it when the people I'm with do. L. called, said they were done eating and that she was ready to go back to NYC, but Venturi wanted to show her this old building (a fancy rowhome) he recently came upon in North Philadelphia (maybe Wilson Eyre is the architect?). So there we were, following Venturi's lead (again!) driving through 'dangerous' neighborhoods all for the love of architecture.
While we were admiring Mount Sharon Baptist Church and ruminating as to who the architect might be, Denise Scott Brown asked, "Who is the architect of Peirce College?"
I said, "Oh yes. That doorway."
Scott Brown, evidently surprised by my quick apposition to her query, said, "Yes, that doorway."
As we were all focusing on the house that is now Mount Sharon Baptist Church, my eyes wandered to look at the other buildings on the block, and what is obviously a newer building caught my eye. I said, "Look at that building over there." To which Denise Scott Brown replied, "That must be by Friday [Architects]." Upon later investigations, Scott Brown was indeed correct in her assessment.

Guess what, Venturi and Scott Brown still don't really know who I am. It's like "pay no attention to that man behind the (virtual) curtain."

14 July 2009
[Happy Bastille Day]
He [Hugues Aubriot] laid the first stone of the historic Bastille (Paris) April 22, 1370. The building was finished in about four years. This work brought upon him the animosity of the people. He was condemned by the bishop of Paris and himself imprisoned in the Bastille, March 1, 1382. He mustered an escape to Dijon, where he died soon after.
In my studio you will be asked to design a building that everyone will hate to the point where you, the architect, will be imprisoned within it.
Rant Magazine... "Artist"/Designer? submittals
This is the Chinese box or mirror-facing-mirror effect. Just as Dante tells the story of how his trip through the universe brought him to the point of telling the story of the trip, which has to be told, and so on, and Proust discovers after three thousand pages that he must write three thousand pages about the discovery that he must write, and so on, so Joyce indicates that in ten years he will write the book in which we are told that in ten years, and so on.

14 July 2013
Why is everyone bashing OMA and Rem Koolhaas?
Literally 10 minutes ago I read, "A book which does not contain its counterpoint is considered incomplete."* And yes, immediately after that I thought about whether I could perhaps try to write that way...
There's a small account of a new OMA/Koolhaas designed, multi-million $, Korean residence/museum almost at completion in July's Vanity Fair magazine--which I read waiting in a dentist office.
*Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

14 July 2014
East Jerusalem Light Rail Attacked
...I can't believe you just wrote "if Israel wanted to they could vaporize Palestine." The vaporization of Palestine already happened. Although I don't feel close to the situation now, there was a time (the late 1970s) when I had a brief conversation with the last Palestinian Governor of Galilee. We discussed an urban design school project which I was working on with his niece (whose family fled Palestine into Lebanon and even there lost their farmland in southern Lebanon to Israel). I showed him how our study area comprised three areas of distinct characteristics. He heard me out and then simply said, "The three areas must be autonomous!" I had no idea then what he was really implying, but his niece right away said, "Oh Uncle, stop." The other time we spoke was on the phone, where I left a message for his daughter. Judging by how he relayed my message, I don't think he was too thrilled about his daughter going out with an American.
The ex-Governor and his wife were brutally murdered in their Philadelphia suburb home in 1986. There are still some suspicious aspects to the murders, and it is even possible that these deaths could be added to tammuz's list above of deaths by terrorists.

14 July 2014
religious architecture by non-religious architects
I'm not sure if John Hejduk became more religious toward the end of his life, but his architecture certainly did. There are a good number of religious building designs toward the ends of both Adjusting Foundations and Pewter Wing, Golden Horns, Stone Veils. Cathedral (1996) is considered one of his last works.

14 July 2016
Noah's Ark replica opens in Kentucky biblical theme park to “compete with the Disneys and the Universals”
Does anyone know if this (religious) theme park is tax exempt?
If you really want to see religious reform, take away the tax-exemption status.
Do any of you even know why organized religions are granted tax-exempt status? Like what exactly is the origin of such a law?
Noah's Ark replica opens in Kentucky biblical theme park to “compete with the Disneys and the Universals”
...thanks much for the information. However, the Walz vs. Tax Commission case does not actually explain why religious organizations are granted tax-exemption (separation of church and state is not the issue). And the "power to tax is the power to destroy" is only a made-up argument.
The "tradition" of granting religious organizations tax-exemption began with a law under emperor Constantine I which proclaimed the newly sanctioned Christian church tax-exempt. I remain curious whether there is anything directly related to religious organization tax-exemption in the US Constitution. Note, too, how one of the Justices saw religious organization tax-exemption against the first amendment.

14 July 2021

religious Sant'Andrea al Quirinale Royal Chapel Versailles St. Genevieve Notre Dame du Haut Monastery of La Tourette St. Pierre at Firminy-Vert Dominican Motherhouse Mikveh Israel Synagogue Santa Maria Assunta Hurva Synagogue plans

14 July 2023   Friday

episode two: "Discovery Fatigue"

episode three: "...and now they're trying to weaponize it."

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