Veduta della Piazza del Popolo

Method Etching
Artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Published Presso l'autore a Strada Felice vicino alla Trinitá de' monti. A paoli due e mezzo. [Rome, 1760-1778]
Dimensions Image 385 x 546 mm, Plate 408 x 550 mm, Sheet 486 x 715 mm
Notes Inscription to either side of title reads: '1. Chiesa di S.M. de Miracoli. 2. Chiesa di S.M. di Monte Santo. 3. Strada del Corso, che conduce al Palazzo di Venezia. 4. Strada, che conduce a Piazza di Spagna. 5. Strada, che conduce al Porto di Ripetta. 6. Guglia Egiziaca inalzata da Sisto V.'

A view of the Piazza del Popolo, from Piranesi's Veduta di Roma. The plaza's signature obelisk, erected by Pope Sixtus V is featured prominently at centre, flanked by the twin baroque churches of St Mary of the Miracles and St Mary of the Holy Mount, which themselves sit on the corners of the Tridente, the three streets which converge on the plaza. The appropriately named 'People's Plaza' is here shown filled with the citizens of Rome, including noblemen, churchmen, beggars, travellers, carters, waggoners, and washerwomen. Piranesi's view maintains the layout of the old piazza, before many of the surrounding medieval era buildings were cleared away in a refurbishment project undertaken by Giuseppe Valadier between 1811 and 1822.

The Piazza del Popolo, now called the 'People's Square,' actually derives its name from the poplar trees that once lined the Via Flaminia in Roman times. One of the main entrance points through the city's ancient Aurelian Walls, the Piazza del Popolo was historically one of the first sights which greeted visitors to the Eternal City. Although much of the current layout is Neoclassical, having been remodelled in the early nineteenth century, the most recognizable features of the piazza are much older. The central Flaminian obelisk was originally created by the Egyptian pharaoh Seti I, and first erected by his son, Ramesses II, at Heliopolis during the 13th century BC. In 10 BC, it was brought to Rome as part of the Augustan refurbishment of the Circus Maximus. In 1589, the broken fragments of the obelisk were reassembled, and re-erected on the Piazza del Popolo at the behest of Pope Sixtus V. Likewise, the twin churches that define the trio of streets known as the Tridente, were begun by Carlo Rainaldi and finished by Bernini in the late seventeenth century.

The Vedute di Roma was Piranesi's most popular and best known series, celebrating the churches, monuments, ruins, bridges, fountains, and public spaces of the city of Rome. The immense popularity of the series meant that they were in constant demand, and Piranesi continued to reissue and add to the series from the 1740s until his death in 1778. The Vedute were particularly popular with British grand tourists, and had a profound effect on the British Neoclassical movement. Demand was such that the series was reprinted numerous times after Piranesi's death, including two Paris editions published by his sons, Francesco and Pietro.

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.

Hind 14. iii/vii, Wilton-Ely 141, Focillon 794, C706

Condition: Strong, clean impression with wide margins. Central vertical fold. Minor creasing to central fold. Vertical fold in right hand margin, not affecting image or plate. Early manuscript annotations providing English translation of title and key to bottom margin, as well as manuscript 'No.19' in same hand at top right corner of margin.
Framing unmounted
Price £2,000.00
Stock ID 42290