Universiteit Leiden

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2012 Piranesi: revolutionary printmaker, illustrious architectural historian

Exposition illustrious works by Piranesi now on view in Digital Special Collections.

The Leiden Print Room (Leiden University Libraries, Special Collections) is treasuring a great number of prints by the renowned Italian architect and printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778). Most of these prints are part of his series of large-scale etchings known as the Vedute di Roma (1746-1778), representing the remains of ancient, and modern buildings in this city. The remarkable views are shedding light on Piranesi’s interest in the archaeological and antiquarian activities in Rome at that time. By combining dramatic imagery with careful rendering of the architectural monuments, he transformed the conventional views into highly fascinating images.

A research course dedicated to Piranesi, and supervised by Prof. Caroline van Eck and Dr. Sigrid de Jong, has been a recurring part of Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society for three years. Students have had the unique opportunity to consult the large holdings of Piranesi etchings of the Leiden Print Room for research purposes. The papers they wrote for this course, each dedicated to a different print from Piranesi’s Vedute di Roma, form the basis of this online exhibition. The outcome of these studies provides a varied image of Piranesi not only as one of the most revolutionary printmakers, but also as an illustrious architectural historian.

View the online exhibition.

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