Piranesi, Rome, and the Arts of Design | Part 3
Christopher M.S. Johns, Ph.D., Norman L. and Roselea J. Golberg, Professor and Chair of the Department of History of Art, Vanderbilt University
Piranesi and the Fabrication of Rome in the European Imagination: Le Vedute di Roma and Antichità Romane
The vast majority of Europeans who studied, collected and admired the graphic works of Giambattista Piranesi never saw Rome. This fabricated Rome inspired the European imaginary in a way that is difficult to understand in the modern age of imagery overload and instantaneous access to almost everything. But Piranesi's Rome was a reality in it own right, and only those relative few who actually visited the Eternal City during their Grand Tours could compare the artist's vision with diurnal reality. Indeed, not a few Roman visitors, conditioned by their study of Piranesi's imagery, were disappointed in the modest scale and shabby surroundings of some of the greatest monuments to survive from an admired antiquity. The Views of Rome and Roman Antiquities, two of the artist's most influential series of etchings, had an exceptionally high profile in Enlightenment Europe and form the basis for his vision of Roman magnificence. This lecture will explore the connection between word and image and between image in reality in Piranesi's influential series with the intention of shedding some light on the disconnection between the scholar's and the tourist's Rome in the middle decades of the eighteenth-century.