Emil Kaufmann

"Giambattista Piranesi" in Architecture in the Age of Reason

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Novelty. My. Disregarded. I. Devices. ignaviam

279. Ibid., pl. IX, reproduced by Bossert, "Phantastische Architekturen," p. 33.

Several designs on the nine plates following the Parere are of the character of the vignette. They are obviously architectural fantasies, not pictorial compositions. Plates VI, VIII, and IX illustrate fantastic buildings without background or environment. These buildings, too, are Údifices composites, consisting of a large number of heterogeneous, hardly related features. The continuity and consistency characteristic of Baroque structures here is missing. The lack of affinity between the parts is most conspicuous in plate IX,279 representing a kind of temple front with a colonnade. Huge tablets with reliefs are set before the columns, cutting them virtually in two. A further menace to unity is the broad sculptured band which starts below the bases of the columns; then, interrupted by these tablets, the band rises to the attic, continues horizontally below the main cornice, drops down to the capitals, and at last stretches horizontally over the entire central part. The portion of the band which drops down to the capitals passes over the pediment and thus disrupts its continuity. The band, the tablets, and several minor features negate the principle of unification. They tell of the ardent aspiration towards innovation. As a reproof to those who cannot grasp the forms and therefore cannot understand the meaning of the composition, the artist inscribed on the attic the following from Sallust's Jugurtha: NOVITATEM. MEAM. CONTEMNUNT. EGO. ILLORUM. IGNAVIAM. This inscription in no way refers to the purpose of the building; it is the artist's proud boast of his invention.








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