Emil Kaufmann

"Giambattista Piranesi" in Architecture in the Age of Reason

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le maniere Egizie . . . che prima ignote, ? non curate nella piccola architettura, ho io il prima in essa introdotte
the Egyptian manners. . . that previously unknown, or not cared for in small architecture, I have first introduced it into

286. Piranesi, Diverse maniere, dedication.
287. Ibid., Ragionamento, p. 35.
288. Ibid., pls. 45, 46. Pl. 45 is illustrated in Bossert, "Phantastisches Architekturen," p. 41.
289. Focillon, Piranesi, p. 68.
290. Piranesi, Parere, p. 13: "Sig. Adams [sic] . . . uno de’più giudiziosi Architetti de’tempi nostri."

Piranesi chose Egyptian forms at a comparatively early time. Egyptian forms became popular much later, in the nineties, when Napoleon battled on the Nile. Piranesi elected these rigid forms at a moment when Baroque composition was still the rule though movement, flexibility, etc., were no longer desirable. The chimneys are interesting instances of the Frozen Baroque. Piranesi remarks that he himself was the first to introduce the Egyptian forms into minor architecture: le maniere Egizie . . . che prima ignote, ? non curate nella piccola architettura, ho io il prima in essa introdotte.286 Yet he did not consider this revival as his chief merit. He was rather proud that he was able "to get out of the old monotonous track, and to present the public with something new in this branch."287 What is true of the chimneys can also be said of two designs for wall panels, for the Caffè degli Inglesi.288 These tripartite panels are symmetrical, and emphasis is laid on the central portion, but the whole composition is divided into neatly delimited compartments. Again the austere Egyptian forms are made use of. The chimneys remind us of the "frozen" decorations of Robert Adam. The two architects, who had become acquainted in Rome between 1750 and 1755,289 held each other in high esteem.290






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