Knights of Columbus Museum: Past Exhibits

Etchings of the Eternal City: Piranesi’s Rome

Guest curator: Talia Avisar
Now Showing

News Release

The exhibition examines several early prints of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome).

The 18th-century artist’s etchings celebrate the diverse richness of imperial Rome in its architectural design. A draftsman by training and ambition, Piranesi hoped that his renderings of these popular ruins (the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Piazza del Popolo, etc.), would inspire what he considered an unimaginative state of architecture in his time.

His works advocated for the cultural and artistic supremacy of ancient Rome, which was being challenged by a growing appreciation of the functional simplicity of Greek architecture.

In his era, printmaking was essentially treated as a mechanical means by which to produce multiple copies of an image.

Most printmakers at the time were not artists in their own right, but rather as skilled workers who copied drawings of others onto copper plates. In the hands of Piranesi, printmaking was elevated to the level of fine art.

He was intimately involved in the process from its initial conception through its final execution onto the printed page.