Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) was Italy's most prolific and innovative printmaker in the 18th century. His architectural etchings still draw us in with their dramatic style and keep us looking with their intricate details. His views of Rome are especially valuable as historical documents. He designed his cityscapes to appeal to Europeans on the Grand Tour and included small human vignettes showing how then-modern Romans lived with the remains of the past. His renderings capture the faded grandeur of ancient Rome's most famous sites and offer insight into their appearance before scientific excavation and conservation began in the 19th century.
This website explores Piranesi's Rome, as well as the ancient monuments that he portrayed with such passion. The endeavor represents a collaboration connecting the Art Department, the Davis Museum, Special Collections, and Wellesley's Mellon-funded Blended Learning Initiative in support of the exhibit Reframing the Past: Piranesi's Vedute di Roma. This exhibit showcases the museum's growing collection of Piranesi's etchings and was organized by Meredith Fluke, Kemper Curator of Academic Programs, and Kimberly Cassibry, Assistant Professor of Art, with the participation of Liza Oliver, Assistant Professor of Art.
Over the course of the fall semester of 2016, students in Cassibry's Roman Monuments seminar added entries on ancient Rome. During the spring semester of 2017, students in Oliver's Art of the European Enlightenment course will add entries about Piranesi's own time. Use the links on the left to navigate their collaborative work.