Plate 22 Diverse Maniere d’adornare I cammini ed ogni altra parte degli edifizi desunte dall’architettura Egizzia, Etrusca – Giovanni Battista Piranesi Prints
Giovanni Battista Piranesi Prints
Divers Ways of ornamenting chimneypieces and all other parts of houses taken from Egyptian, Etruscan, and Grecian architecture.
With an Apologia in defense of the Egyptian and Tuscan architecture, the work of Cavaliere Giambattista Piranesi.
This work was addressed to an international audience of patrons and designers. With an introduction in three languages; Italian, English, and French.
It was brought out at the end of a decade where Piranesi was given his first chance (through the encouragement of Clement III) to practice as a designer.
With freedom to pursue his imaginative approach to design that he had indicated in some of his earlier work.
In this period, he designed the painted decorations in the Egyptian style. That adorned the walls of the Caffe degli Inglesi in the Piazza di Spagna. And several ornamental chimneypieces for foreign clients.
These designs make up the main body of this group of prints.
Interestingly in his introductory “Apologia”, he gives particular prominence to the chimneypiece.
Which he argues had no precedence in antiquity, and he goes on to say has a particular relevance to English architecture.
Also illustrated are designs for clocks, vases, tea and coffee pots, coaches, and sedan chairs, as well as many other items of decoration
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78)
When Piranesi first arrived in Rome in 1740 there was an already established market for views of the city as Grand Tour souvenirs.
His Vedute however, executed from about 1748 until the end of his life transcended mere topographical accuracy. And became a heroic and tragic vision to the power of Roman architecture.
Two aspects of Piranesi’s Venetian background were key to the enabling of this vision:
- his training in engineering and stone construction which helped engender an appreciation of the effects of massive masonry. In particular the poetic effect of ruins
- and his training in stage design which cultivated a sensitivity to effects of light and great skill in both linear and atmospheric perspective.
These architectonic/scenographic concerns found heightened and highly personal expression in Piranesi’s series of fantastic prison interiors. The Carceri d’Invenzione – which first appeared in the 1740’s.
Piranesi’s work as a designer is characterised by a highly imaginative eclecticism of style. A trait reflecting his belief in a creative attitude towards the use of antique sources.