PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista (1720-1778)
Hadrian's Villa: Remains of the So-Called Pretorio
[Paris: F. & P. Piranesi, circa 1800]. Etched plate, on laid paper, by Piranesi. Sheet size: 20 1/2 x 28 1/4 inches.
From Piranesi's Vedute di Roma, this plate depicts Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, Italy.
Hadrian's Villa was constructed at Tibur (modern-day Tivoli) as a retreat from Rome for Roman Emperor Hadrian during the second and third decades of the 2nd century AD. It was tradition for Roman emperors to have villas constructed as respite from everyday life. Hadrian's Villa is a vast area of land with many pools, baths, fountains and classical Greek architecture set in what would have been a mixture of landscaped gardens, wilderness areas and cultivated farmlands. Constructed in travertine, brick, lime, pozzolana, and tufa, the complex contains over 30 buildings, covering an area of at least 250 acres of which much is still unexcavated. The villa was the greatest Roman example of a sacred Alexandrian garden. 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), 113 (state 1).