Piranesi, The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

Piranesi Maxentius

Piranesi entitles this print the “Tablinum (office) of the Golden House of Nero, wrongly called the Temple of Peace.” However, Piranesi himself has also misidentified the ruins and they are actually the remains of the Basilica of Maxentius. This print is not the first Piranesi has created of the Basilica, but it is the most complex and stylized. The low point of view, along with the asymmetry and the dark shading emphasize the scale of the basilica. The repeated patterns of the vaults and the rays of sunlight shinning through them, as well as the minimal size of the figures also aid in this effect.  While the ruins of the Basilica of Maxentius are a sight to behold, Piranesi’s interpretation manages to make them even more breathtaking.


Piranesi, Giovanni Battista. Piranesi, Rome recorded: a complete edition of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Vedute di Roma from the collection of the Arthur Ross Foundation (New York, NY: Arthur Ross Foundation, 1990).


Wilton-Ely, John. The mind and art of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978).

Piranesi, The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine