Emil Kaufmann

"Giambattista Piranesi" in Architecture in the Age of Reason

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monuments funÚraires de dimensions colossales, ÚtagÚs les un au-dessus des autres
funerary monuments of colossal dimensions, stacked one above the other

251. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Le antichitÓ romane (Rome, 1756), vol. II, pl. II. Focillon, Catalogue, no. 225. Focillon overlooked the date 1756 inscribed on a tablet in the lower center of the engraving. Bossert, "Phantastische Architekturen," ill. p. 38.
252. Piranesi, AntichitÓ Romane, vol. Ill, pl. II. Focillon, Catalogue, no. 287. Bossert, "Phantastische Architekturen," p. 37, reproduces an Útat with a dedication to Charlemont. Focillon, Catalogue, p. 63, A.
253. Piranesi, Opere varie, pls. 17 (Via Appia), 18 (Circus). Focillon, Catalogue, nos. 124, resp. 125. Both are also inserted in Lettere di giustificazione scritte a Milord Charlemont (Rome, 1757), pls. II, III.
254. Focillon, Catalogue, no. 225.

In the middle fifties of the century two compositions originated which Piranesi felt to be of particular significance: the "Vie Appia e Ardeatina" and the "Ancient Circus on the Via Appia." He assigned to them conspicuous places in his publications, and etched them twice in different sizes. The first etching appears as the second frontispiece in volume II of the AntichitÓ Romane;251 the second etching is used as a frontispiece in volume III.252 Both reappear on a reduced scale and with slight alterations in the Opere Varie.253 From the architectural viewpoint the main characteristics of the compositions are the overabundance of incongruous features and the lack of a definite plan of organization, particularly in the "Vie Appia e Ardeatina." Focillon speaks of monuments funÚraires de dimensions colossales, ÚtagÚs les un au-dessus des autres.254 Piranesi built fantastic wholes out of classical features chosen at random and with little regard to topographical correctness or archaeological accuracy. He found in the designs an outlet to express his deep disquiet. These etchings present chaotic situations, reflecting the chaotic frame of mind of their author. Piranesi the artist reacted to the general feeling of uneasiness not less vehemently than Lodoli the writer.

Vie Appia e Ardeatina

Ancient Circus on the Via Appia




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