The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf

to Cynthia Davidson re The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
31 May 2022
Dear Cynthia Davidson,
I'm writing to ask whether Log would be interested in publishing a densely illustrated expository essay entitled "The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project." Since having discovered now three instances of Piranesi plans existing in altered, second states--the Ichnographia Campus Martius, the Pianta dell antico Foro Romano, and, as of two days ago, a third plan that has till now received no attention at all--the discovery of these changed plans, along with the specificity of what Piranesi changed, and how the new plans were ultimately published infer a singular project pursued by Piranesi the last year of his life. In fact, several features of the manifested/surviving documents suggest that the project was cut short by Piranesi's death, and, subsequently, Piranesi's two eldest children, Laura and Francesco, finished the project as best they could. That three heretofore unknown Piranesi printings were discovered within the past 23 years is in itself historically significant, but perhaps even more significant is that we can now reasonably surmise as to Piranesi's personal passion and obsession just before he died.
More than anything, this story of multiple architectural discoveries leading to a real glimpse into Piranesi's process and thinking needs an editor that will bring all of it to its full potential. Cynthia, I firmly believe that editor is you because you will come to know best how this story fits within our rapidly evolving times. On the other hand, if, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and Log will not be publishing this story, than at least keep me informed of that.
Sincerely yours,
Stephen Lauf

Re: to Cynthia Davidson re The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Dear Stephen,
It is very difficult to respond to your email without seeing the text itself. Did you intend to attach it? Please advise.

Re: to Cynthia Davidson re The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Dear Cynthia,
First of all, thank you for responding to my email, especially since I did not follow submission protocol. The email was sent with some urgency however, because the third discovery of a plan with two differing versions convinced me of two things: 1) that I was well on the right track toward discovering Piranesi's final project, and 2) all the data I've been collecting and generating as to what the discovered differing plans might mean now requires more attention than I alone can give for all the "gathered intelligence" to come to full fruition. (In other words, I should no longer publish this story online, and instead seek out "peer review" and traditional publishing.)
As of now there is no definitive text, nor could there be since the story's ending was unknown till last weekend. There are, however, a series of web pages, starting November 2019, where I commence gathering whatever illustrative 'evidence' I can find online or generate on my own regarding the two differing versions of the Ichnographia Campus Martius. This exercise proved most effective in that by the end of December the two differing plan versions of the Pianta dell antico Foro Romano were discovered. Then I began gathering whatever illustrative 'evidence' I could find online or generate on my own regarding the two differing versions of the Pianta dell antico Foro Romano. Again, this exercise proved most effective in that it led to three plans published by Francesco Piranesi nine years after G. B. Piranesi's death, one of which is unsigned and now also discovered to exist in two differing versions (which I believe can now be safely attributed to Piranesi, the father).
All these pages, but for the last, are still published at The last page contains the beginnings of material that I now wish to only share with an editor.
What I've presently come to realize is that all of my research so far solely involved a search for images and then a continual study of the images because there simply are no texts that can explain the subject matter. The six key drawings of Piranesi's final project are now known, three pairs of plan drawings that each exist in two differing versions. Piranesi's intention was for himself to execute the second state of each plan, but he died leaving a good bit of unfinished work behind. That's the core of the story of Piranesi's final project.
Cynthia, I hope I'm offering you enough material to at least keep you interested in what I'm doing here. I intend to continue gathering data and begin writing extended texts over the course of the summer, and share the new material with you as it's produced, even if you're not yet comfortable with committing to a publication of the work.
The web pages are 1530 pixels wide. I hope that doesn't make for inconvenient viewing.

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