Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Le antichità romane. Rome, 1756.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Le antichità romane. Rome, 1756

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) was one of the greatest printmakers of the eighteenth century, and Antichita Romane established his reputation as a leading protagonist of Roman archaeology. A talented architect as well as an artist, Piranesi's aim in the Antichita was both to record the vanishing past for scholars and to inspire contemporary designers to emulate the great achievements of Rome.

The complete Antichita Romane consists of two hundred and fifty large etchings and was initially published in four massive volumes. It seems that the artist's tireless devotion to his work and his identification with the grandeur of Rome never flagged, for on the day of his death, Piranesi reportedly refused to rest: saying that repose was unworthy of a citizen of Rome, he spent his last hours busy among his drawings and copperplates.