Veduta del prospetto principale della Colonna Trajana [View of the Front of Trajan's Column]

Method Etching
Artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Published [Rome, 1774-1779] (Paris c. 1835 Impression)
Dimensions Overall 2910 x 465 mm
Notes One of Piranesi's most impressive and accomplished etchings. A magnificent, almost three metre high, depiction of Trajan's column in Rome using six plates printed over five pages. Piranesi's spectacular vision of the monument illustrates the column's narrative spiral frieze, featuring sculpted relief scenes of the Roman emperor Trajan's epic battles against the Dacians. The etching includes the original bronze statue of Trajan, which was later replaced with a figure of Saint Peter in 1587, and still stands today. Descriptions of the many reliefs run the entire length of the print on the left and right sides.

Plate three from 'Trofeo o sia Magnifica Colanna Coclide di marmo composta di grossi macigni ove si veggono scolpite le due guerre daciche fatte, da Trajano inalzata nel mezzo del Gran Foro eretto al medesimo imperadore per ordine del senato e popolo romano doppo i suoi trionfi' (The Trophy or Magnificent Spiral Column of marble composed of large drums on which are carved the two Dacian Wars of Trajan, raised in the middle of the large Forum, erected in honor of the same Emperor on the order of the Senate and People of Rome after his Triumph)

John Wilton-Ely describes the 'Trofeo o sia Magnifica Colanna Coclide...' as a composite publication, which meticulously records the three monumental relief columns in Rome - those of Trajan, of Marcus Aurelius (the Antonine Column) and of Antoninus and Faustina - consisting of three groups of plates executed between 1774 and 1779 and eventually combined. It belongs to the last phase of Piranesi's career, when a number of works, initiated earlier, were brought to conclusion with considerable studio help. Besides other such assistants as Vincenzo Dolcibene, Francesco Piranesi had now begun to play an important role in the business. Dolcibene and the younger Piranesi were probably involved in most if not all of the plates concerned. Apart from a certain mechanical character in these illustrations, attributable to such studio assistance, the somewhat frozen expression found in these plates shows the growing influence of the aesthetic ideals of Neo-classicism.

Giovanni Battista (also Giambattista) Piranesi (1720 – 1778) was an Italian artist famous for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric "prisons" (the Carceri d'Invenzione). He was a major Italian printmaker, architect and antiquarian. The son of a Venetian master builder, he studied architecture and stage design, through which he became familiar with Illusionism. During the 1740's, when Rome was emerging as the centre of Neoclassicism, Piranesi began his lifelong obsession with the city's architecture. He was taught to etch by Giuseppe Vasi and this became the medium for which he was best known.

Wilton-Ely 687, Focillon 553, C621-626

Condition: Excellent impression, printed on five sheets and professionally joined. Small nicks to edges of sheet, not affecting plate or image, old water stains to left of bottom sheets.
Framing unmounted
Price £10,000.00
Stock ID 40171