Height: 404.000 mm
Width: 701.000 mm
Prints and Drawings
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, View of the Capitol, Rome, a drawing
Italy, around AD 1761
This drawing, in pen and brown ink over red and black chalk, was made for a print. The view shows the Capitol, the administrative centre of ancient and modern Rome. The Renaissance architecture of Michelangelo's Palazzo dei Conservatori fills the sheet in the background. In the foreground, stretching across the width of the sheet, are important Roman antiquities. They are arranged symmetrically on each side of the head of the stairs which mount the Capitoline Hill.
Though Piranesi recorded the site fairly accurately, he was also interested in creating the impression of the grandeur that was ancient Rome and how it still dominated the eighteenth-century city. So the Trophies of Marius and the two Dioscuri, or heavenly twins (Castor and Pollux) with their horses are the only forms outlined in pen and ink. These famous classical statues tower over the small human figures barely visible in red chalk in the foreground. Furthermore, when compared to the print the unfinished drawing reveals quite how much the artist worked directly on the copper plate.
This is one
of Piranesi's few surviving drawings for his series of 133
J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)