Views Of Rome: Etchings of Piranesi at Roger Williams


September 14 - October 14, 2022 | ARCH 121 Gallery

This exhibition displays etchings by Piranesi, which are part of his Views of Rome (Vedute di Roma). In these series of copperplate engravings, the artist, architect, author, and antiquarian portrayed the monuments of the Eternal City and its environs not just with precision and splendor, but as part of a living landscape. In Piranesi’s prints, aristocrats saunter, women hang laundry, and peasants water their livestock among the city’s ancient ruins and Baroque buildings. The quotidian life of eighteenth-century Rome is vividly portrayed against a backdrop of atmospheric, often-decaying grandeur. 

These original etchings by Piranesi, which are part of Roger Williams University Library Archive Collection are displayed with the prints by Douglas Darden, a recent gift to RWU. 

Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian artist famous for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric “prisons” (Le Carceri d’Invenzione). Piranesi was born in Mogliano Veneto, near Treviso, then part of the Republic of Venice, on 4 October 1720 and died in Rome 9 November 1778. He was famous for his popular series of prints, the “Vedute di Roma” (Views of Rome); by the end of his life, he had produced 135 such “views” that celebrated the grandeur of that city and displayed the overlapping nature of its ancient and contemporary cityscapes.

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