- Museum number
- Object: The Piranesi Vase
The Piranesi Vase; marble crater on three legs and triangular base; relief decoration including satyrs; modern assemblage incorporating ancient elements.
- Production date
- 2ndC (antique parts)
Diameter: 71.12 centimetres (max)
Height: 271.78 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Together with the so-called Warwick Vase, the Boyd or Piranesi Vase ranks among the most ambitious restoration projects of the Piranesi workshop. This is underlined by the fact that both vases were represented by three plates each in the 1778 compilation of Vasi, Candelabri e Cippi.
In modern literature, the Piranesi Vase is mostly considered an elaborate pastiche. However, the frieze is in fact a most skillful and painstaikingly accurate restoration of numerous original fragments representing satyrs at vintage. The scene is fully preserved on a Roman Altar in Naples that in the 18th century was in the collection of the Prince of Francavilla and illustrated in Montfaucon's Recueil d'Antiquites of 1757.
The configuration of the support of the vase is made up of a variety of unrelated ancient fragments supplemented by matching modern parts.
The vase was acquired by the wealthy West Indies proprietor and director of the East India Company, Sir John Boyd, on his Grand Tour of Italy in 1776. The diary of a Dutch tourist mentions it in the Piranesi workshop in that year.
Boyd displayed the vase at his country seat Danson House (Bexley), a neo-palladian mansion surrounded by landscaped grounds. The dionysiac theme of the vase was taken up elsewhere in the house, for example the dining room, with its wall paintings of Bacchus and his consorts.
T. Opper, "Glory of Rome restored", British Museum Magazine 51 (Spring 2005), 38-40.
E. Miller, "The Piranesi Vase", in: A. Oddy (ed.) The Art of the Conservator (London 1992), 122-136.
J. Scott, "Some sculpture from Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli", in: Piranesi e la cultura antiquaria: gli antecedenti e il contesto (Rome 1983), 339-355.
M. Jones, Fake? The Art of Deception (London 1990), p. 133, fig. 5.
- On display (G1/od/centre)
- Exhibition history
1955-1976, London, Orangery of Kensington Palace
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number