PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista (1720-1778)
The Temple of Saturn, with a Corner of the Arch of Septimius Severus in the Foregound.
[Paris: F. & P. Piranesi, circa 1800]. Etched plate, on laid paper, by Piranesi. Sheet size: 20 5/8 x 28 1/2 inches.
From Piranesi's Vedute di Roma, this plate depicts the ancient Roman temple to Saturn.
This plate features the Temple of Saturn, an ancient Roman temple to the god Saturn. In Roman mythology, Saturn ruled during the Golden Age, and was often associated with wealth. His temple housed the treasury where the Roman Republic's reserves of gold and silver were stored. Collapse left only the remains of the front porch standing. The partially preserved pediment displays the inscription: "Senatus Populusque Romanus / incendio consumptum restituit, meaning "The Senate and People of Rome restored [the temple] consumed by fire." The pediment and eight surviving columns represent one of the iconic images of Rome's ancient architectural heritage. The temple's ruins stand at the foot of the Capitoline Hill at the western end of the Roman Forum. 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. He went back to Venice in 1744 briefly, before returning to Rome and setting up as an engraver and print publisher. From this time until his death in 1778 he enjoyed a prominent degree of success and became a well-known figure to the wealthy visitors to Rome. His sons Francesco and Pietro helped him in his work and continued the business after his death.
Hind, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (a catalogue), 109 (first state).