PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista (1720-1788) and Francesco PIRANESI (1758-1810)
Trofei de Daci de Sarmati ed altri Popoli Alleati Scolpiti nella Fascia e nel Piedestallo della Colonna Trajana.. [Trophies of the Dacians, the Sarmatians and other allied peoples, carved on the surface and pedestal of Trajan's Column..., Ely 702]
[Pl. XIV] Rome: Gio. Batti. Piranesi, [1774-1779]. Copper engraving. Very good condition apart from some light foxing in the margins. Image size (including text): 22 3/4 x 32 inches. Sheet size: 31 1/8 x 42 1/8 inches.
This remarkable etching of the pedestal of Trajan's Column is from Piranesi's 'Trofeo o sia Magnifica Colonna Coclide'.
The marble slab in the lower right hand side reads, "Victory's inscribing a shield between two trophies". Originally situated in the center of Trajan's Forum, a sizeable complex of buildings designed by the architect Apollodoro, the column was erected in AD103 -133 to commemorate emperor Trajan's triumph against the Dacians in two military campaigns he led in AD101-102. Measuring 100 feet tall, it is covered by spiral bas-relief sculptures depicting the two victories. After his death in 117AD, Trajan's ashes were laid to rest inside the column's pedestal.
Published toward the end of Piranesi's career, 'Trofeo o sia Magnifica' is comprised of three series of plates created between 1774 and 1779 that depict the colossal relief columns of Rome: the Trajan column, the Antonine column (of Marcus Aurelius), and the column of Antoninus and Faustina. With the assistance of Francesco Piranesi, Giovanni Battista's son, and Vincenzo Dolcibene, the three groups of plates were published as a single volume.
'Trofeo o sia Magnifica Colonna Coclide', the part devoted to Trajan's Column, was the first of the three series to be completed (circa 1774) and was dedicated to Pope Clement XIV.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Venetian architect, draftsman, scholar, archaeologist, and designer, was tremendously influential in the development of neo-classicism. Patronized by both foreign tourists and Italians including Pope Clement XIII, he was internationally renowned for his etchings of the scenery and ruins of classical Rome.
Piranesi, the son of a stonemason, was born in 1720 in the village of Mogliano, near Venice. Pursuing an early ambition to become an architect, he was apprenticed to his uncle Matteo Lucchesi, a prominent architect and hydraulic engineer, and then to the Palladian architect Giovanni Scalfurotto. He later studied etching and perspective composition in the workshop of Carlo Zucchi. In 1740, he traveled to Rome where he studied set design with Domenico and Giuseppe Valeriani and engraving with Giuseppe Vasi.
Wilton-Ely, Giovanni Battista Piranesi: The Complete Etchings , 702.