Pantone 871 C Metallic = R-160 G-145 B-81 + Black
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Prospetto dell’Alma Citta di Roma dal Monte Gianicolo [detail] 1765 Giuseppe Vasi (Sicily 1710 – 1782 Rome) etching on twelve joined sheets of laid paper L2016.2101.018
This catalog is presented in conjunction with the SFO Museum exhibition All Roads Lead To Rome: 17th–19th Century Architectural Souvenirs from the Collection of Piraneseum, held at the Main Hall of the San Francisco International Airport from January 21, 2017 to August 13, 2017.
©2017 by San Francisco Airport Commission. All rights reserved.
“ F rom the dome of St. Peter’s one can see every notable object in Rome, from the Castle of St. Angelo to the Coliseum. He can discern the seven hills upon which Rome is built. He can see the Tiber…the broad green Campagna, stretching away toward the mountains, with its scattered arches and broken aqueducts of the olden time, so picturesque in their gray ruin, and so daintily festooned with vines…He can see a panorama that is varied, extensive, beautiful to the eye, and more illustrious in history than any other in Europe.” MARK TWAIN The Innocents Abroad (1869)
ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME It is difficult to imagine modern Western civilization without the context of ancient Rome, the Eternal City. Rome was the world’s largest city from circa 100 BCE to 400 CE , and the cultural and political center of an empire lasting for more than a millennium. At the peak of its power, Rome ruled an estimated seventy million people—more than twenty percent of the world’s population. Its territory encompassed nearly fifty 21 st century nations that owe much of their culture, religion, political systems, and infrastructure to Roman models. Arguably, Rome resonates most potently in its enduring architectural forms and public monuments, which were first widely disseminated in a very familiar method—through tourism. Visiting another country for the sake of curiosity is a relatively modern idea. When Englishman Richard Lassels published an account of his travels through Italy in 1670, travel for any purpose other than business, religious pilgrimage, or military purposes was rare. During the 17 th and 18 th centuries, generations of wealthy young Englishmen followed Lassels’ advice that all “young lords” take “the Grand Tour” to better understand their world and prepare for their role in it. Ancient intersection of the Via Appia and Via Ardentina viewed at the second milestone outside the Porta Capena [detail] 1756 Le Antichità Romane II (The Antiquities of Rome, Vol. 2), Plate II Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 – 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 15.75 x 25 in L2016.2101.010
Early travelers on the Grand Tour followed a fairly standardized itinerary from England through France and Italy on their way south, and then north through the German-speaking countries and the Netherlands before returning home. The trip was an educational rite of passage that typically lasted one year or more, with lengthy stays in Paris and Rome. Travelers with nearly limitless funds refined their language skills, burnished aristocratic connections to their continental counterparts, and returned with marble busts, paintings, prints, and other artifacts representing classical antiquity for display in their studies and libraries. During the 19th century, the advent of mass transit made the Grand Tour accessible to greater numbers of travelers, including those crossing the Atlantic Ocean. In 1868, author Mark Twain publicized his own “great European pleasure excursion” in a popular series of dispatches written for the San Francisco newspaper that sponsored his trip. The Grand Tour became an increasingly American phenomenon with Rome as a critical stop for the relatively young country’s prominent writers, artists, and aristocrats. As the Grand Tour’s itinerary evolved, so too did the journey’s keepsakes. Many of these artworks and models from the Collection of Piraneseum document architecture and views as they existed in antiquity, while others depict them as they appeared at the time of the artworks’ creation. And some, like the imaginative capriccio paintings, present fantasy structures or combine real monuments in fanciful views. Many are true souvenirs for Grand Tourists wishing to return home with symbols of their cultural inheritance, while a select few were made singularly as commission proposals or elaborate gifts. All, however, convey the essence of Rome’s splendid architecture and the timeless grandeur of its ruins. Capriccio with Figures and Statues before Ruins and an Equestrian Statue [detail] c. 1730 Pietro Cappelli (Naples, c. 1700 – 1734) oil on canvas 30 x 40 in
Capriccio View of Ancient Roman Monuments c. 1755 Giovanni Paolo Panini (Piacenza 1691 – 1765 Rome) oil on canvas 31 x 43 in L2016.2101.085
In 1711, Giovanni Paolo Panini moved to Rome, where he studied drawing and figure painting with Benedetto Luti (1666–1724). His architectural views— vedute—were very popular with Grand Tourists, and he soon became the most accomplished practitioner of the genre. By the mid-18 th century, Panini oversaw a thriving and talented workshop of artists, whose production of the master’s pictures was prolific. It appears Panini was more or less directly involved in
each picture and almost certainly sketched the broad outline of canvases prior to his painters setting to work. According to art historian Ferdinando Arisi (1920–2013), one of the foremost authorities on Panini, the present painting is wholly by Panini. This highly realized capriccio view includes a variety of antique monuments, albeit in a completely imaginary and picturesque juxtaposition to each other. From
left to right are the Porticus Octaviae, Farnese Hercules, Colosseum, Pyramid of Caius Cestius, Arch of Constantine, and Trajan’s Column. Interestingly, Panini and his studio produced another half dozen paintings of this view. Each canvas is a different dimension and proportion with slightly different details—more figures or fewer—and one even omits Trajan’s Column.
Trajan’s Column c. 1830 maker unknown rosso antico, nero antico, gilded bronze figure 33.5 x 6 x 6 in L2016.2101.044
This impressive, exactingly detailed marble model of Trajan’s Column includes the inscription—a bit abbreviated—above the doorway, which is first carved, then filled with a yellow-gold paste. The shaft’s spiraling decoration—also slightly abridged—is a high-fidelity portrayal of the emperor’s subjugation of the Dacians during two successive campaigns in the early 2nd century CE. The rosso antico and nero antico marbles of the model were originally quarried during the rule of Augustus (27 BCE –14 CE ) and brought to Rome from the edges of its empire. After serial sackings, the city was awash in brightly colored, ruined marble, which provided the material for souvenirs—and much else—for a thousand years. This model portrays the monument as it existed in antiquity, not as it existed at the time of this model’s creation, long after Pope Sixtus V replaced Trajan with the figure of Saint Peter in 1587.
“ I walked up to the Capitol, which rose like an enchanted palace in the desert…there I was suddenly confronted by the dark triumphal arch of Septimius Severus, which cast a still darker shadow. In the solitude of the Via Sacra the wellknown objects seemed alien and ghost-like.” JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE Italian Journey (17 88)
Capriccio with Arcade and Chapel c. 1780 Francesco Guardi (Venice, 1712 – 1793) pen, brown ink, and wash over traces of black chalk on laid paper 9.5 x 8 in L2016.2101.045
The scene in Francesco Guardi’s drawing exhibits much of what renders this Venetian’s work so engaging— picturesque compositional richness and spatial depth; plays of sunlight and shadow; energetic, gestural strokes; and architectural formality rendered from an intimate point of view.
A guide to Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, which holds pictures by Guardi, compares the artist to the great landscape painter Canaletto (1697–1768) in this way: “As his style evolved, Guardi embraced a more free-handed approach to his cityscapes in comparison to Canaletto’s spatial detail. This gave Guardi a more atmospheric
style that captured mood and an expressionistic view of Venice. This style was known as pittura di tocco, where he would lightly lard the canvas with a small dotting motion and airy brushstrokes.”
“ Another set of ateliers, almost worthy of the name studi, are those of the Scarpellini, who are entirely occupied in carving the small fragments of rare marbles, with which the soil of Rome abounds, into miniature models of Trajan’s Column, the Arch of Severus, the Sarcophagus of Agrippa, or any other relic of Roman greatness…” WILLIAM BERNARD COOK AND HENRY NOEL HUMPHREYS Rome and its Surrounding Scenery (1840)
Temple of Portunus c. 1880
Arch of Janus c. 1880
Arch of Drusus c. 1870
maker unknown alabaster 5 x 4.75 x 2.5 in
maker unknown alabaster 4.25 x 4 x 4 in
maker unknown alabaster 6 x 4.5 x 2.25 in
Also known as the Temple of Fortuna Virilis, this temple was dedicated to the Roman god Portunus, whose wide-ranging domain included keys, doors, and farm animals. The temple dates to the 1st century BCE and is one of two temples on the Forum Boarium (Cattle Market) that have survived to the present day. Studied and admired since the Renaissance, the temple was used as a classic example of Roman Republican architecture in academic treatises. This unusual model shows the structure as three columns deep. At the time this souvenir was carved, the landmark’s fourth row of columns remained buried inside the walls of an adjacent building, now demolished.
The Arch of Janus was built in the mid-4 th century by Emperor Constantius to honor his father, Emperor Constantine. Like many Roman buildings erected during this time, the marble-clad monument was constructed of spolia—elements from existing buildings—and is the only existing four-faced triumphal arch in Rome. The monument’s name was a later invention—a reference to the Roman god of gates and doorways. The survival of the arch is attributed to its conversion into a fortress during the Middle Ages. This miniature depicts the original pyramidal marble roof that was demolished by mistake when medieval additions were removed in 1837.
The Arch of Drusus is an ancient Roman monument near the first mile marker of the Appian Way. History has clarified that the structure is unrelated to Nero Claudius Drusus (38–9 BCE). While its origins remain a mystery, we know the marble-faced travertine arch was incorporated as part of Rome’s aqueduct system to deliver water to Emperor Caracalla’s new baths in the early 3rd century CE. This souvenir reflects how it appeared to Grand Tourists during the 19th century, with only the central part of the structure remaining intact. The upper portion of the alabaster model depicts the bricked facade of a later modification to the arch and features modeled vegetation atop the ruin.
Varia Marci Ricci Pictoris Praestantissimi Experimenti; No. 9 and No. 10 from set of twenty plates 1730 Marco Ricci (Belluno 1676 – 1729 Venice) etchings on laid paper 16.75 x 12 in L2016.2101.013, .016
Venetian painter Marco Ricci’s posthumously printed set of twenty etched landscapes—Varia Marci Ricci Pictoris Praestantissimi Experimenti—was introduced in 1730, ten years prior to the arrival of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78) to Rome. Piranesi was certainly aware of Ricci’s series before embarking on his own career as an etcher of Roman views. This pair of etchings, like Ricci’s most significant paintings, depicts ruins in particularly elegant and picturesque compositions. The scenes unfold on both sides of a great arch set to the middle distance. The figures inhabiting the pictures appear at ease with the tumbled-down antiquity that surrounds them.
For all their gentility and elegance, it may come as a surprise that the creator of these etchings was a murderer and a suicide victim. Early in his life, Ricci killed a gondolier while fleeing Venice just ahead of the law. At life’s end, he determined to die like a knight, refusing sustenance, laid out in the costume of a cavalieri, with a rapier by his side.
“ Marble and stone-cutting are also beautifully executed both at Rome and Florence. Hopmartin (sp), a remarkably ingenious German, executes models in bronze of the Triumphal Arches, Columns, Ruins, Ancient Vases…He has executed a bronze model of Trajan’s Pillar, with the whole of the bas reliefs, accurately copied—an extraordinary work!” CHARLOTTE ANNE EATON Rome in the Nineteenth Century (1820)
Arch of Constantine c. 1820 Wilhelm Hopfgarten (Berlin 1779 – 1860 Rome) and Benjamin Ludwig Jollage (Berlin 1781 – 1837 Rome) gilded bronze, Carrara marble base 13.5 x 10.75 x 6.25 in L2016.2101.003
The Arch of Constantine spans the route taken by triumphant emperors returning from battle to Rome. The monument commemorates the victory by Constantine I over rival Maxentius in 312 CE after God allegedly promised the emperor’s soldiers victory if the sign of the cross was made on their shields. Although somewhat vague, and perhaps purposefully so, the monument’s inscription celebrating “blessed Augustus … inspired by the divine” may be the first public reference to Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. The Arch of Constantine was constructed with spolia— the remains of earlier buildings. Eight statues depict captured enemies and were probably taken from the Forum of Trajan. Many of the friezes originally decorated
monuments to emperors Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. The monument’s detached columns, three archways, and an inscribed panel above the central archway were modeled on the Arch of Septimius Severus, erected a century earlier in Rome’s Forum. By the 1820s, the Roman bronze foundry of Prussian émigrés Wilhelm Hopfgarten and Benjamin Ludwig Jollage was a well-known source for souvenir architectural models of Rome’s ancient monuments. Their detailed design and high level of execution set the standard for this sort of work in Rome until the mid-19th century. While most of the firm’s models were made as mementos for Grand Tourists, others were made for the Papacy and as gifts for foreign dignitaries.
The Arch of Constantine was one of the firm’s earliest subjects. As with other monuments from ancient Rome, Hopfgarten and Jollage chose to portray the Arch of Constantine not as it existed circa 1820, but as it was originally designed. Thus, their model is topped by monumental statues of a four-horse chariot, its driver (Constantine, presumably), and accompanying riders of the Imperial Cavalry. While scholars debate the precise rendition of the sculptural group, these figures certainly occupied the Arch’s roof until pulled down during one of Rome’s serial sackings.
Colosseum and Arch of Constantine c. 1650 Viviano Codazzi (Bergamo 1604 – 1670 Rome) figures by Michelangelo Cerquozzi (Rome, 1602 – 1660) oil on canvas 56 x 77 in L2016.2101.025
Born in Bergamo in 1604, painter Viviano Codazzi moved to Naples in the 1630s, where he demonstrated remarkable skill with quadratura—architectural perspective. Despite working in Naples until moving to Rome in 1647, Codazzi did not adopt the flamboyant mannerisms characteristic of Neapolitan, High Baroque painting. Instead, Codazzi pursued an illusionistic realism, employing his skills of perspective, architectural rendering, and strong lighting to create a picture of a
very real place, even if the viewpoint was impossible and the details inaccurate. Codazzi’s body of work largely consists of medium-size architectural paintings. This large, impressive picture of the Colosseum is characteristic of the painter’s mature work of the 1650s. The highly realized figure group is by Michelangelo Cerquozzi (1602–60) of the Roman Bamboccianti painters, with whom Codazzi
collaborated on many pictures. Luciano Ascanio (1621–1706), whose work is also on exhibition, was among Codazzi’s most dedicated students, and Codazzi’s son, Niccolò, was also an accomplished painter of architectural views.
Capriccio with Vision of Saint Augustine in Ruined Arcade c. 1675 Ascanio Luciano (Naples, 1621 – 1706) oil on canvas 34 x 39 in L2016.2101.015
The Neapolitan Ascanio Luciano was thirteen years old when architectural painter Viviano Codazzi (1604–70) came to Naples in 1634, and he was twenty-six years old when Codazzi left. That Luciano was Codazzi’s student is clear in the younger man’s work, which, over the past 300 years, was often mistaken for that of his teacher. After Codazzi’s departure, Luciano’s painting developed more individual qualities. He became less focused on precise architectural rendering and more
interested in colorful effect, occasionally portraying sacred and biblical scenes. In Luciano’s capriccio, the architecture teems with unlikely decoration, reminiscent of the flamboyant, fantastical imagery of François (Francesco) de Nomé (1593–c. 1620), another Neapolitan painter of imaginary architectural views. Unlike the surreal and anxious scenes portrayed by de Nomé, Luciano offers
his off-kilter architecture as a setting for the story in which Saint Augustine sees a vision of a child using a seashell to pour the ocean into a hole, symbolizing the attempt to understand the mysteries of faith.
Tomb of Scipio c. 1860 maker unknown antique Africano marble, paint 7.75 x 13.25 x 6.75 in L2016.2101.063
The Tomb of Scipio is the only surviving sarcophagus from the common tomb of a prominent family who served in the Roman Republic from the 3 rd century BCE to the early 1 st century CE . The tomb memorializes Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus, a Roman consul who led the army to victory over the Etruscans in 298 BCE. It was discovered in 1780 during excavation of the burial vault and later transported to the Vatican’s museum by Pope Pius VI.
The top of the tomb is modeled as a cushion above a decorative relief panel of rosettes and vertically channeled tablets. The front of the monument bears Scipio Barbatus’ inscribed epitaph, originally painted red: LUCIUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO; SON OF GNAEUS; A STRONG AND WISE MAN; WHOSE APPEARANCE MATCHED HIS VIRTUE; A CONSUL, CENSOR, AND TEMPLE OFFICER AMONG YOU; HE CAPTURED TAURASIA, CISAUNA, SAMNIUM; SUBDUED LUCANIA AND RETURNED WITH HOSTAGES.
The Tomb of Scipio was popularly rendered in souvenir prints and miniatures for Grand Tourists. Its simple decoration, graceful lines, and excellent proportions made it a popular model for memorials in both England and the United States.
“ …and among its massed edifices stand the ruins of temples, columns, and triumphal arches that knew the Caesars, and the noonday of Roman splendor…The Appian Way is here yet, and looking much as it did, perhaps, when the triumphal processions of the Emperors moved over it in other days bringing fettered princes from the confines of the earth. We can not see the long array of chariots and mail-clad men laden with the spoils of conquest, but we can imagine the pageant, after a fashion.” MARK TWAIN The Innocents Abroad (1869)
Ancient intersection of the Via Appia and Via Ardentina viewed at the second milestone outside the Porta Capena 1756 Le Antichità Romane II (The Antiquities of Rome, Vol. 2), Plate II Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 – 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 15.75 x 25 in L2016.2101.010
After nearly a decade of careful study, Giovanni Battista Piranesi produced Le Antichità Romane (1756)—a four-volume work of 250 plates documenting and championing Rome’s architectural heritage. While recent excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum inspired widespread interest in ancient architecture, many of Rome’s great ruins had not yet been properly excavated, with many still plundered for cheap building materials.
In this imaginary view—veduta ideata—Piranesi fills the roadside with a wild assortment of gravestones, busts, tombs, and mausoleums, variously decorated with Latin inscriptions and Egyptian hieroglyphics, and sprouting with vegetation. On one of the headstones at the center of his etching, Piranesi references his good friend, the Scottish portrait painter Allan Ramsay (1713–84), still very much alive at the time. Piranesi includes milestone markers for both the Via Appia
(center of composition) and Via Ardentina (in shadows, at right of composition), with the two historic roads converging near a pile of ruined sculpture in the foreground at right. While the monuments are out of scale with one another, they dwarf the people occupying the roadway, communicating the magnitude and enduring grandeur of ancient Rome to its mid-18th century visitors.
“ We climbed to the Palace again, where the cypresses seem to mourn for the ruin of the grandeur of the Roman emperors. The view from here is magnif icent…We went to the Capitoline hill. We saw a fragment of the temple of Jupiter Tonans, which was architecturally very handsome.” JAMES BOSWELL journal entry while on Grand Tour (1765)
Capriccio with Figures among Roman Ruins c. 1660 Giovanni Ghisolfi (Milan, 1623 – 1683) oil on canvas 27 x 19.5 in L2016.2101.061
With some painters, their influence on later artists may be just as important as their own work. Historian Rudolf Wittkower writes of Giovanni Ghisolfi, “…he made his fortune as Italy’s first painter of views with fanciful ruins.” These imaginary views—called capricci, or vedute ideate—became a distinct genre of Italian painting for the next 150 years. Adds Wittkower, “Rome had at least one great master (Giovanni Paolo Panini) who raised both the vedute essate and vedute
ideate (exact and imaginary views) to the level of great art…one cannot doubt that he received vital impulses from the precise art of Giovanni Ghisolfi, whose vedute ideate show the characteristically Roman scenic arrangement of ruins.” This painting, showing robed philosophers holding forth in an imaginary setting, epitomizes the “characteristically Roman” composition cited by Wittkower
and is a clear precursor to later work by Panini. Historian Giancarlo Sestieri describes this painting as one of the artist’s “absolute masterpieces.”
Temple of Castor and Pollux c. 1860
Temple of Vespasian and Titus c. 1860
maker unknown brecciated giallo antico, nero antico 30 x 14 x 5.5 in
maker unknown brecciated giallo antico, nero antico 29.5 x 10 x 10 in
The Temple of Castor and Pollux in Rome’s Forum was constructed in 484 BCE where, in the previous decade, the twin sons of Jupiter and Leda were said to have announced their victory after aiding the Romans in the legendary Battle of Lake Regillus. During the Republican period (approximately 500 BCE to 30 BCE), the temple was the site of an annual cavalry parade commemorating the victory, and it was also used as a secret meeting place for the Roman Senate. It later housed the office for weights and measures and served as the Treasury for Imperial Rome.
The Temple of Vespasian and Titus was dedicated to the first two Roman emperors of the Flavian Dynasty following their deification in the 1st century CE. The building suffered extensive damage in the 15 th century when Pope Nicholas V remodeled the Forum and destroyed much of the temple’s façade to create a fortress with corner towers. By the time of the Grand Tour in the 17 th century, all that remained were three columns at the southeast corner of the temple, two fragments of its travertine wall, and a section of its richly carved entablature.
The temple originally included eight columns on its short sides and eleven on its long sides, with an interior chamber paved with mosaics. It stood fifty feet tall with a twelve-foot entablature. The temple fell into ruin in the 4th century CE, and by the 15th century, only the present three columns remained.
Miniatures of both the Temple of Vespasian and Titus and the Temple of Castor and Pollux were popular with visitors to these familiar ruins in Rome’s Forum. The earliest versions date to the first part of the 19 th century, when archaeological excavations of these temples revealed much of their
current forms. Thus, while we consider these places as ancient, it was their novelty that spurred the production of souvenirs. Replicas fashioned in this period are typically smaller, and less exactingly turned out than these examples. The stone for these models was quarried in western Tunisia at the height of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago and incorporated into the city’s ancient architecture. After Rome’s fall, it undoubtedly formed part of the city’s rubble and was eventually scavenged by an opportunistic scarpellino—stone carver.
Pair of Capricci with Architectural Ruins c. 1720 Pietro Paltronieri (Mirandola 1673 – 1741 Bologna) pen and brown ink with ink wash on laid paper 8 x 11.5 in L2016.2101.056, .058
Pietro Paltronieri was born in Mirandola, thirty miles north of Bologna, the 17 th century birthplace of quadratura (architecturally illusionistic) painting. Paltronieri’s perspective-based work is rooted in this tradition. Unlike other artists, whose views focus solely on classicism, Paltronieri’s subject matter is wider ranging, often including Gothic churches, construction sites, vernacular houses and apartments, fountains and wells—the scenography of the everyday.
This pair of ambitious drawings was prepared with a purpose. The picture above is preparatory to Paltronieri’s painting of this scene held in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. For a painter so strongly identified with Bologna, the subject matter is unambiguously Roman, with depictions of the Marcus Aurelius Equestrian Monument, the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, and curving, hulking ruins evocative of the Colosseum.
Arch of Titus c. 1830 maker unknown rosso antico, nero antico 14.5 x 10.5 x 4.75 in L2016.2101.057
This unusual, highly realized model of the Arch of Titus was carved shortly after the monument’s restoration in 1823 by architect Giuseppe Valadier (1762– 1839), who used contrasting colors of marbles to differentiate between original and restored portions. Valadier incorporated smooth columns farthest from the opening in contrast with the monument’s original fluted columns. One side features the original dedication to Titus in Roman square capitals, while
opposite, Valadier’s work was referenced in a new inscription: (THIS) MONUMENT, REMARKABLE IN TERMS OF BOTH RELIGION AND ART; HAD WEAKENED FROM AGE; PIUS THE SEVENTH, SUPREME PONTIFF; BY NEW WORKS ON THE MODEL OF THE ANCIENT EXEMPLAR; ORDERED IT REINFORCED AND PRESERVED; IN THE 24 TH YEAR OF HIS SACRED RULERSHIP.
This model was crafted from antique marbles originally quarried on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula, then a Roman colony, in the time of Augustus in the early 1st century CE. Shipped to Rome, the stone formed part of the city’s architectural fabric. Serial sackings led to the destruction of many of the city’s monuments. Early in the 19 th century, a piece of that rubble was re-worked into this architectural souvenir.
“ My farewell to Rome was heralded in a particularly solemn manner: for three consecutive nights a full moon stood in a cloudless sky, diffusing its magic over the immense city, and more than ever before, I felt myself transported into another simpler and greater world.” JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE Italian Journey (17 88)
Capriccio of Ruined Gallery c. 1755 Hubert Robert (Paris, 1733 – 1808) pencil, pen, and ink over traces of chalk on laid paper 29 x 21 in L2016.2101.042
Hubert Robert received a classical education and artistic training in Paris before setting out for Rome in 1754 in the entourage of the new French ambassador, the duc de Choiseul. Over the next dozen years, he befriended Rome’s preeminent printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78), was capriccio master Giovanni Paolo Panini’s (1691–1765) favorite studio assistant, and embarked on drawing expeditions with countryman and artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806). Robert, by all accounts, exceeded in both talent and charm.
Robert’s time with Panini was especially influential— views of fantastical, almost always Roman, architectural ruins and landscapes form the heart of his oeuvre. Social critic Denis Diderot dubbed the artist “Robert des Ruines.” This unusually large drawing by Robert dates to early in his career, not long after his arrival in Rome.
Column of Marcus Aurelius c. 1820 Wilhelm Hopfgarten (Berlin 1779 – 1860 Rome) and Benjamin Ludwig Jollage (Berlin 1781 – 1837 Rome) gilded bronze, verd antique 35.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 in L2016.2101.030
The Column of Marcus Aurelius commemorates the last of Machiavelli’s “Five Good Emperors,” whom he celebrated as having ruled by wisdom and virtue during the Pax Romana—the relatively peaceful period of Roman rule during the 1 st and 2 nd centuries CE. With its original inscription destroyed, it is unknown if the monument was erected during the emperor’s lifetime, or shortly after his death in 180 CE. The monument consists of twenty-eight marble blocks hollowed out for an internal stairway. A spiral relief illustrates the emperor’s military campaigns against Germanic tribes along both sides of the Danube River that occupied the greater part of his reign. The monument is the first artistic record of the crisis that would threaten the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. This gilded bronze model is topped by a historically accurate depiction of Rome’s “Philosopher King,” who was replaced with a statue of the apostle Saint Paul by the order of Pope Sixtus V in the 16 th century. Finely crafted models such as this example would have made their way into the hands of particularly affluent Grand Tourists.
“ S hortly after our settlement in the Eternal City, which has so much more time to be seen than the so-journer has to see it, I pleased myself with the notion of surprising it by visiting in a studied succession the many different piazzas...no lurking ruin would escape me; no monument, whether column or obelisk, statue, ‘storied urn or animated bust’ or mere tablet, would be safe from my indirect research. Before I knew it, I should know Rome by heart, and this would be something to boast of long after I had forgotten it.” WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS Italian Journeys (1867)
Solar Obelisk c. 1830
Solar Obelisk c. 1850
maker unknown rosso antico and variegated marbles 37.5 x 7 x 7 in
maker unknown nero antico 35.25 x 6.25 x 6.25 in
There are more ancient Egyptian obelisks in Rome than there are in Egypt, with most carted home as trophies by one Caesar after another. This particular obelisk originally honored the 6th century BCE Egyptian king Psammetichus II in Heliopolis. Emperor Augustus brought it to Rome in 10 BCE for use as the central part of the Solarium Augusti—his giant sundial. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the late 5th century, most of Rome’s obelisks were toppled by vandalism or earthquakes, covered in debris and mud, and forgotten for centuries.
During the late 16th century, Pope Sixtus V directed the first attempts to reassemble this obelisk. Pope Benedict XIV continued the restoration efforts in the mid-18th century with more fragments found during archaeological excavation. Final restoration with granite from the nearby Column of Antoninus Pius was completed under the direction of Pope Pius VI from 1789 to 1792, and the obelisk was re-erected in a square now called Piazza di Monte Citorio.
These impressively sized, carefully detailed models of Rome’s Solar Obelisk are crafted from antique marbles recovered from the ruins of Rome’s structures and monuments. Each of the monument’s four sides is distinct—painstakingly and exactingly engraved with the obelisk’s hieroglyphics. The Latin inscriptions on the model’s bases are filled with gold paste. The primary inscription, repeated on opposite sides, references Augustus’s subjugation of the Egyptians and proclaims the monument as the emperor’s “gift to the sun.”
“ H ere was Rome indeed at last; and such a Rome as no one can imagine in its full and awful grandeur! We wandered out upon the Appian Way, and then went on, through miles of ruined tombs and broken walls…past the tomb of Cecilia Metella…the most picturesque and beautiful clusters of arches; broken temples; broken tombs. A desert of decay, somber and desolate beyond all expression; and with a history in every stone that strews the ground.” CHARLES DICKENS Pictures from Italy (1846)
Ancient Circus of Mars with neighboring monuments viewed from the Via Appia 1756 Le Antichità Romane III (The Antiquities of Rome, Vol. 3), Plate II Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 – 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 15 x 23.5 in L2016.2101.035
This spectacular fantasy view of the ancient Circus of Mars was the frontispiece to Volume III of Le Antichità Romane, Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s antiquarian mapping of the ancient city. Piranesi’s imaginative assemblage of funerary monuments—columns, obelisks, and a variety of sculpture—lines a broad avenue populated by diminutive figures, whose size reinforces the exaggerated scale of the monuments. Great temples, pyramids, and mausoleums form the back-
ground under a masterfully shaded sky of clouds that appear to be in motion. Piranesi’s Rome is a fantasy city made almost entirely of stone blocks—not the bricks and concrete that indeed formed much of the Eternal City.
surrounded by a jumble of urns and fragmented sculpture. But rather than a romantic interpretation of the inexorable decay of these artifacts, Piranesi’s depiction seems to demonstrate their resistance to the ravages of time, and perhaps their permanence as monuments to an ancient civilization.
Trees and other vegetation encroach from either side of the composition. At the center foreground is an open tomb, similarly invaded by nature, and
Flaminian Obelisk c. 1820 attributed to Valadier workshop antique specimen marbles with gilded metal mounts 40 x 17 x 17 in L2016.2101.040
First erected by Ramses II in the 13 th century BCE, this obelisk was brought by Emperor Augustus to Rome in 10 BCE. It stood at the center of the Circus Maximus, but was lost for centuries, likely a casualty of the city’s numerous sackings. By 1589, it had been located and excavated from beneath twenty feet of mud. The obelisk’s broken pieces were reassembled, relocated, and finally reinstalled at the center of the Piazza del Popolo in a project commissioned by Pope Sixtus V. This meticulously crafted model is certainly not a tourist’s souvenir. It is too large, too well made, and too inaccurate. Instead, it appears to be an architect’s model of the type proposed for important commissions—presented for the approval of the most important clients. Additionally, the very high level of craft, rich palette of specimen marbles and gilded metal, and decorative design and styling all indicate it was likely made circa 1820 at the direction and in the workshop of Giuseppe Valadier (1762–1839), for presentation to his client, Pope Pius VII, as part of his successful proposal to redesign the piazza.
Ancient Circus of Mars with neighboring monuments viewed from the Via Appia [detail] 1756 Le Antichità Romane III (The Antiquities of Rome, Vol. 3), Plate II Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 – 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 15 x 23.5 in L2016.2101.035
Lateran Obelisk c. 1820 Wilhelm Hopfgarten (Berlin 1779 – 1860 Rome) and Benjamin Ludwig Jollage (Berlin 1781 – 1837 Rome) bronze, antique Aswan red granite 29.25 x 4.25 x 4.25 in L2016.2101.017
Originally erected at the Temple of Karnak in the 14 th century BCE, the Lateran Obelisk was brought down the Nile in the early 4 th century CE at the direction of Emperor Constantius II, who had it moved to Rome and installed at the center of the Circus Maximus. The bronze model reflects the inscription of that period. In time, the Eternal City and the obelisk fell; the latter was buried under twenty feet of mud and debris. In 1587, Pope Sixtus V directed that the obelisk, recently rediscovered, be excavated and reassembled in the piazza fronting Saint John Lateran Basilica. The architect, Domenico Fontana (1543–1607) recorded the antique inscription on the ancient Roman base, which he replaced with a new support and a flattering dedication to his client, the Pope. Fontana also removed the lowest twelve-foot section of the Aswan red granite obelisk, presumably for structural reasons. The ancient Egyptian remnant was used as a source for new bases in the creation of souvenirs for Grand Tourists in the early 19 th century, when this model was produced.
Claude-Joseph Vernet, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Charles-Louis Clérisseau at the Great Baths, Hadrian’s Villa c. 1752 Claude-Joseph Vernet (Avignon 1714 – 1789 Paris) brown ink, wash and body color on laid paper 9.5 x 13.5 in L2016.2101.037
Giovanni Piranesi’s 1799 biography provides an account of the master printmaker’s visit a halfcentury earlier to Hadrian’s Villa. Two French painters joined him—Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721–1820), then a young man fresh to Rome, and ClaudeJoseph Vernet, a bit older, and on the verge of being recalled to Paris by King Louis XV for a project that would distinguish him as one of the great landscape painters of the 18th century.
Vernet’s drawing depicts the three men gathered within an arched niche—two of them engrossed in sketching the scene before them. On the ruin’s roof are two more men. Perhaps they accompanied the artists, or they may be figments provided for scale. A light fold down the center of this sheet is revealed by a thin line of ink gathered to the bottom of the crease, indicating that Vernet, more than 250 years ago, folded this lovely ink drawing a few minutes before it was fully dry.
Temple of Hercules Victor c. 1880
Capriccio with Figures before a Round Temple c. 1760
maker unknown alabaster 12 x 12.5 x 12.5 in
Hubert Robert (Paris, 1733 – 1808) oil on canvas 18 x 15 in
The Temple of Hercules Victor in the Forum Boarium may be Rome’s earliest surviving marble building. The structure is located where the Greek demigod was said to have defeated the fire-breathing monster Cacus. The 2 nd century BCE temple was identified for many years as the Temple of Vesta due to its similar design as a round, Greek-style temple encircled by a single row of columns. Nineteen of the Temple of Hercules Victor’s original twenty columns remain.
Hubert Robert was born in Paris and traveled to Rome in 1754 in the service of the French ambassador. After Robert’s official residence at the French Academy expired, the young artist remained in Rome for eleven years—departing for Paris briefly in 1769—and supporting himself by producing works for visiting dignitaries and connoisseurs of the Eternal City. He worked for some time in the studio of Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691–1765), a master among the vedutisti— Rome’s view painters. Robert also developed close ties to Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78), whose capricci of ancient ruins were such an influence that the artist later earned the nickname “Robert des Ruines.”
As with many ancient Roman buildings, the temple’s survival is due to its conversion into a church during the Middle Ages. However, by the 12th century, the roof and marble entablature were destroyed. Although the exact nature of the original roof remains unknown, it likely featured a hole at the top for venting smoke from sacrificial fires within the structure. This temple was a popular subject for miniatures and images produced as keepsakes for Grand Tourists. This finely carved example is a particularly exquisite version with detailed columns and roof tiles. The maker presents an imaginatively rendered rooftop at its apex.
Robert often blended architectural accuracy with fantasy. This small canvas—a highly atmospheric, imaginary view of a Roman temple, with colorfully, vigorously rendered figures in the foreground—is characteristic of Robert’s work. The manner in which the lighter-hued temple is framed by architectural elements harkens back to Panini. Note too, the Italian umbrella pine and cypress trees, characteristic of Rome.
Capriccio Landscape with Roman Forum Buildings and Monuments c. 1720 Jan Frans van Bloemen (Antwerp 1662 – 1749 Rome) oil on canvas 25 x 29 in L2016.2101.055
Antwerp-born Jan Frans van Bloemen traveled to Rome in 1689 and never left. Unlike other Roman painters, van Bloemen followed in the direction of Claude Lorraine (1600–82) and, especially, Gaspard Dughet (1615–75), painting serene landscapes set in the Roman countryside, or campagna, with the picturesque outline of some ancient town or ruins beyond. In time, van Bloemen came to be called
“Orizzonte” for the wide breadth of his landscapes reading across the horizon. This picture is a fully characteristic example of the artist’s mature, late production. In the foreground, the natural landscape is dotted with ruined architectural fragments, and includes two toga-clad men in deep discussion highlighted by the sun. In the background,
elements are reassembled, much as Panini mixes and matches familiar ruins in his later pictures—the single pillar at the center resembles the Column of Phocas; the arched gateway is derived from the Arch of Titus as it appeared before its restoration circa 1820; and the battered tower with battlements is visible today at the Forum’s northwest edge, beyond the Arch of Septimius Severus.
Tomb of Cecilia Metella 1860 Vatican Mosaic Studio glass micromosaic with rosso antico border inset on Belgian black marble, giltwood frame 5 x 7 in L2016.2101.033
Micromosaics, pictures composed of a multitude of minute tiles of glass or stone, began as a Byzantine phenomenon. In 1576, the Roman Church formed the Vatican Mosaic Studio, whose purpose was to recreate, in more enduring materials than oil-oncanvas, the Church’s vast collection of Old Master paintings that were deteriorating at the time. Still, it was not until the late 18 th century that micromosaic
pictures became a staple souvenir for tourists traveling on the Grand Tour. This view of the famed Tomb of Cecilia Metella is an example of micromosaic craft at a very high level, with tiles so small they are difficult to see except under magnification. In addition to the fine mosaic work set into a slab of Belgian black marble, the picture retains
its original giltwood frame. Written on the frame directly below the picture is “Don de Mr. Le General Cte. De Goyon 1860.” This object was given at the time of the French occupation of Rome to the French General of the occupying forces, the Count of Goyon.
Prospetto dell’Alma Citta di Roma dal Monte Gianicolo 1765 Giuseppe Vasi (Sicily 1710 – 1782 Rome) etching on twelve joined sheets of laid paper 40.5 x 108 in L2016.2101.018
In 1740, a young man walked into the workshop of Giuseppe Vasi, then the most eminent etcher in Rome. The self-possessed twenty-year-old sought work in the master’s studio and was intent on learning something of his secrets. The internship did not go well. The younger artist quickly suspected Vasi was withholding certain critical information, especially the best methods for handling acid during the etching process. Soon enough, this disappointment turned to rage. In a studio likely awash in sharp, pointed objects such as knives and etching needles,
the apprentice stabbed his teacher; the motive described as murder. Fortunately, for both men and posterity, Vasi survived, and his hotheaded charge, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78), seems to have gone unpunished. For the next four decades, a robust rivalry built between the two men, decisively influencing the work of both; a competition without which Vasi’s defining work— Prospetto dell’Alma Citta di Roma—might never have been achieved.
In the quarter-century following that attack, Vasi’s artistic prominence waned while Piranesi’s star burned ever more brightly. Piranesi’s much more dramatic, highly realized views of Rome—often of subjects identical to those by Vasi—rendered his teacher’s images timid, even naïve. In his partial eclipse, Vasi sought something much more magnificent than he’d previously produced—an 18 th century masterpiece to surpass all others.
Vasi’s 1765 Prospetto on twelve joined sheets presents an immense perspective drawing, picturing the city as it then appeared from atop the hill known as the Janiculum. Buildings and other landmarks in the foreground are larger than those to the back. An extensive index at the bottom of the drawing locates the city’s landmarks and thoroughfares. To make the Prospetto more comprehensible, Vasi invented several adjustments to the then-existing rules of perspective, including vertically stretching the lower portion of the image.
Vasi’s radical shift in size and approach continued in this period with his four large views of Rome’s patriarchal churches, intended for assembly with the Prospetto into an impressive ensemble nearly twenty feet in length. With this escalation, Vasi regained something of an edge on his adversary, Piranesi, who responded nine years later with his Trofeo series (1774), which included twelve-sheet prints of both the Trajan and Antonine columns. Piranesi died not long thereafter (1778), and Vasi four years later (1782).
Micromosaic tabletop c. 1865 Cesare Roccheggiani (active mid- to late 19th century) glass micromosaic with rosso antico border inset on Belgian black marble, further malachite frame 26 x 1.5 in L2016.2101.034
No micromosaic studio was more prolific—and very few more accomplished—than that led by Cesare Roccheggiani, who was employed in the workshop of Michelangelo Barberi (1787–1867) prior to opening his own workshop on Rome’s Via Condotti in 1874. By 1900, the shop expanded to include three addresses and offered a wide range of decorative arts. This tabletop includes eight highly realized views of Rome’s most famous ancient monuments arranged around a circular image of Saint Peter’s Square. This design, also including the stylized Greek Key border, rosso antico trim, and malachite frame, is characteristic of Roccheggiani’s work. The use of imported Belgian black marble for the ground was widespread in this period. This tabletop dates to the period between the late 1850s (when the gas lamps visible adjacent to the obelisk in the Square were installed) and 1883 (when the pair of bell towers visible atop the Pantheon were demolished). Tourists often purchased these tabletops without bases, which were built by cabinetmakers in their home countries. Most bases were low and Roman or Neoclassical in inspiration. This tabletop on a base made of bamboo was discovered in the Philippines.
Porta Santa, Saint Peter’s Basilica 17 th century maker unknown molded plaster on wood base 35 x 23.75 x 10.5 in L2016.2101.020
This highly detailed model is finished on either side, representing both the exterior and interior facades of one of the world’s most famous doorways, the Porta Santa of Saint Peter’s Basilica. In a tradition dating to the 15th century, Holy Doors—immense doors located in Rome’s four patriarchal churches—are ceremoniously opened by the Pope during the Church’s Jubilee years, currently every quarter-century. In 1609, Pope Paul V appointed Carlo Maderno (1556–1629) as architect of Saint Peter’s. Michelangelo (1475–1564) had held this post from 1549 until his death and set in motion much of the Basilica’s design. Maderno oversaw the completion of Michelangelo’s
work, and, famously, modified the master’s plans. The palatial facade fronting Saint Peter’s Square, completed in 1612, is largely Maderno’s design. Other work still remained; in anticipation of the Jubilee year of 1625, Maderno turned his attention to the Basilica’s Porta Santa, which was fitted within the monumental doorway at the right-hand side along the portico. Francesco Borromini (1599–1667) arrived in Rome in 1619 and was employed as a decorative sculptor on Maderno’s work at Saint Peter’s. By 1621, the future architect and enfant terrible of Rome’s Baroque era demonstrated sufficient talent to be placed in a position of some authority in the design and building
of the Porta Santa. Borromini was likely responsible for the design of the doorway and certainly in charge of the carving of the brooding angel above its exterior. This type of distinctive, slightly ominous cherub recurs in many of the architect’s subsequent buildings. Variations between the model and the executed work are subtle, primarily involving disparities in the type, proportions, arrangement, and sizes of decorative elements. Likely, this object was created as a presentation model for proposed changes to the Porta Santa. Most of the artifact is original, while the columns and molding at the top of the arch are modern replacements.
“ Struck by these famous places, I was seized with enthusiasm…we made a resolution to speak Latin continually during this course of antiquities. We have persisted, and every day we speak with greater facility, so that we have harangued on Roman antiquities in the language of the Romans themselves.” JAMES BOSWELL journal entry while on the Grand Tour (1765)
Capriccio of Temple Ruins with Statue of Minerva c. 1720 Giovanni Paolo Panini (Piacenza 1691 – 1765 Rome) pen and black ink, gray and blue washes on laid paper with partial watermark 13 x 10 in L2016.2101.047
Giovanni Paolo Panini, the preeminent 18 th century painter of Roman ruins, was sufficiently successful in the latter part of his career that he prepared sketches for his studio assistants to produce the type and volume of paintings required to meet the demands of the period’s Grand Tourists. This handsome capriccio, in which Panini has crowded but elegantly balanced ancient architecture and
sculpture, does not seem to relate to any painted composition by the artist. A circular ruined temple, presumably to Minerva who sits in front, aloft, possesses a domed interior, like that of the Pantheon. In the foreground, four figures in modest dress converse. In the distance are an obelisk and ancient arcade.
The demand for finished drawings such as this was very high among 18th century collectors, and Panini’s work was expensive. In 1739, the Marchese Capponi appears to have paid 200 scudi for his drawing of the Palazzo della Consulta, Rome, whereas an oil by wellknown painter Gaspare Vanvitelli (1653–1736) cost only around 15 scudi. Panini’s drawings were treated like paintings and often framed and hung on the wall.
Navicella (Santa Maria in Domnica) 19 th century maker unknown Carrara marble 16 x 29.5 x 9.5 in L2016.2101.008
This carefully carved marble model of Rome’s Navicella (“Little Ship”) Fountain is an example of Rome’s cultural appropriation of those it conquered—specifically, the Roman Navy’s adoption of the Egyptian goddess Isis as protector of its sailors. A naval contingent stationed in Rome was responsible for setting up vast sunshades at the Colosseum. Their annual parade featured a replica of a naval boat as an offering to Isis. With Rome’s fall in
the 5th century, this replica was lost until the early Renaissance. Rediscovered, and much deteriorated, Pope Leo X employed famed sculptor Andrea Sansovino (c. 1467–1529) to carve a copy in 1520 for placement in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Domnica. Latin inscriptions on the base of this model read: GENEROUS; POPE LEO X; AD 1520 on one side, and
CONSECRATED TO ISIS THE VENERATED ONE; FLEET OF MISENUM on the other. The inscriptions do not accord with those seen on 18 th and 19th century views of the monument or with those faintly visible on the monument today. It may be that the sculptor, or sculptor’s client, wished to emphasize the monument’s connection to both the ancient Roman Navy and the Egyptian goddess.
Four Rivers Fountain c. 1675 unknown Roman sculptor(s) cast bronze 52 x 26 x 23 in L2016.2101.059
It was spring, 1647, in Rome, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), Europe’s greatest Baroque architect and sculptor, was on a losing streak. Commissioned in 1638 by his patron Pope Urban VIII to design a pair of flanking bell towers for Saint Peter’s Basilica, the work had structurally failed and was removed after 1642. In 1644, Urban VIII died, and the new Pope, Innocent X, sought out new talent for the impressive works he had in mind. Chief among these was a new fountain planned for Rome’s Piazza Navona. Pope Innocent X asked several leading architects for proposals, but not Bernini, and appeared to have accepted a plan by Francesco Borromini (1599–1667), Bernini’s fiercest rival. Accounts have this as a low point for the artist. Yet, through the connivance of the Pope’s intimates, it was arranged for Bernini to make a silver model of his proposal and have it placed along the Pope’s path as he made his way to dinner. Seeing it, the Pope understood the subversion afoot, yet famously warned “… he who desires not to use Bernini’s designs, must take care not to see them.” The Four Rivers Fountain, unveiled June 12, 1651, features four colossal carved figures personifying the world’s four great then-known rivers—the Ganges, Danube, Nile, and Rio de la Plata. These are perched on carved travertine rockwork, which supports the Obelisk of Domitian, brought from Egypt in the 1 st century CE . The assemblage, animated by rushing, churning, roaring waterworks, is one of the great fountains of the world. In addition to that silver model now lost, which won him the commission, Bernini’s studio produced at least two additional models of the fountain in wood and terra-cotta as part of the design process. After the fountain was completed, at least two additional models were commissioned of Bernini. One of these, in marble, has not been located. Another, in gilded bronze, is in the collection of the Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid. This model, skillfully cast in bronze, patinated, and with a textured finish, appears to date from the last part of the 17 th century. Its base— rockwork, figures, and ornament—is original, while the obelisk and basin are modern replacements.
Trevi Fountain c. 1820 probably made in Doccia, with spurious mark of Real Fabricca Ferdinandea, Naples molded and modeled earthenware, glaze 24 x 28 x 12 in L2016.2101.012
The Trevi Fountain was designed as a Papal commission by architect Nicola Salvi (1697–1751) in 1730. Giuseppe Panini (1733–62), son of the famous Roman painter of architectural ruins, Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691–1765), completed the project after Salvi’s death in 1751. This model of Rome’s largest Baroque fountain features its central figures, all from Ancient Greek mythology. Oceanus (personification of the seas) upon his shell chariot is pulled by a pair
of winged Hippocamps (horse-bodied and fish-tailed) and guided by two Tritons (human-bodied and fishtailed). The model also gives dramatic form to the water making its way to the basin below. The model may be something of a fake. Its clay is impressed with the mark of the Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea (Works of King Ferdinand) in Naples, famed for its production of matte glazed porcelain
in the later 18 th century. This example, on the other hand, is glazed earthenware from the early 19 th century, perhaps made in Doccia, near Florence. Spurious marks were often employed in this period by Italian ceramicists looking to gain additional prestige and a higher sales price.
Veduta del Pantheon d’Agrippa 1750–78 Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome) Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 – 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 18.5 x 27 in L2016.2101.079
Piranesi’s view of the Pantheon, similar to his depictions of other ancient Roman architecture, presents the temple much larger than its actual height. Tiny figures atop its 142-foot dome and at the base of its portico exaggerate the scale of this iconic structure. Piranesi accurately documents its infamous twin bell towers— derisively referred to as “asses’ ears”—which were added at the direction of Pope Urban VIII in the early 17th century and not removed until the late 19th century.
Piranesi details the temple’s degraded exterior— stripped of much of its marble cladding—and he includes vegetation sprouting from its rooftop. The portico’s front rank of eight massive granite Corinthian columns supports the pediment bearing the inscription to Roman consul Marcus Agrippa, a source of misidentification for centuries. Agrippa did indeed construct a temple on this site during the reign of Augustus (27 BCE –14 CE), but it was destroyed
by fire. The current structure was built in the early 2 nd century CE by Hadrian, who incorporated the inscription of the original building on the new facade, a common practice during Hadrian’s rebuilding projects.
“ At the Pantheon all is simple and grand. What a portico! What masses of light and shadow! But enter within—the dome opens like an eternity: the impression is simple and overwhelming: there are no bounds: the eye wanders over it incessantly: if it f ixes upon any one point, that point seems always retiring…The light falls through a circular opening at the top of the dome; and looking up at the sky and the passing clouds of the zenith, one might easily imagine himself in the centre of a globe that was rolling through the infinite depths of heaven.” THOMAS COLE Notes at Naples (1832)
Pantheon (double inkwell) c. 1870 maker unknown patinated bronze, giallo antico 6.5 x 7.5 x 9 in L2016.2101.004
The Pantheon, an architectural masterpiece designed by Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century CE, is one of the world’s most famous buildings and one of the bestpreserved structures of classical Rome. Conceived as a temple to one or more Roman gods, its relatively early consecration as a Christian church in 609 saved the building from the abandonment and subsequent destruction that befell most of ancient Rome’s buildings during the early medieval period.
Its perfectly spherical dome—142 feet tall from floor to ceiling and 142 feet wide—is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, a marvel of engineering not replicated until the Renaissance. The building’s only source of external light is its oculus—an opening at the top that may have been used to vent smoke from sacrifices in the center of the building. In this impressive model, the oculus serves as a handle to remove the dome and reveal a double inkwell.
Colonna dell’Immacolata 1853 maker unknown antique Egyptian alabaster, antique specimen marbles, Carrara marble, cast-silver bas reliefs, patinated bronze, terra-cotta figures, paint 79 x 19 x 19 in L2016.2101.001
Colonna dell’Immacolata was dedicated in 1857 to commemorate the declaration of Mary of Nazareth’s immunity from original sin. Pope Pius IX, whose coat of arms decorates the sides of the monument’s pedestal, established the doctrine three years earlier. The monument’s column of cipollino—a particularly beautiful variety of marble with alternating layers of color—was found under a monastery during an 18 th century excavation of Roman ruins. The monument’s designer, the Pope’s architect Luigi Poletti (1792–1869), determined the ancient, thirtynine-foot column was too short for his purpose and superimposed a Corinthian capital and marble collar to extend its length. Statues of biblical prophets David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Moses surround the base of the forty-foot monument, crowned with a bronze statue of the “sinless” Madonna. Prior to construction, Poletti prepared two large, slightly different models for his client’s approval. The model selected by Pius IX—the same height as this model—is located today in the museum of Saint John Lateran Basilica. The location of the other model is unrecorded.
“ I doubt if any statue of king or captain in the public spaces of the world has more to commend it to the general heart. Irrevocable simplicity… an impression that the sculptors of the last three hundred years have been laboriously trying to reproduce…The admirably human character of the f igure survives the rusty decomposition of the bronze and the slight ‘debasement’ of the art; and one may call it singular that in the capital of Christendom the portrait most suggestive of a Christian conscience is that of a pagan emperor.” HENRY JAMES Italian Hours (1873)
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius c. 1840 Wilhelm Hopfgarten (Berlin 1779 – 1860 Rome) patinated bronze 23.5 x 12 x 7 in L2016.2101.029
The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius was erected circa 175 CE and originally sited in either the Roman Forum or the Piazza Colonna, where the Column of Marcus Aurelius now stands. Although bronze equestrian statues were common in imperial Rome, this is the only surviving example. During the late empire, equestrian statues were often melted down for coins or new sculptures. Later, during the Middle Ages, many were destroyed by Christians
who considered them pagan idols. The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius was saved because it was incorrectly thought to depict Constantine, the first Christian emperor. The monument was among the most popular subjects for Roman decorative arts workshops during the 18 th and 19 th centuries. This impressive model was crafted by Prussian émigré Wilhelm Hopfgarten, who
refined his foundry techniques in Paris before settling in Rome in 1804. In Rome, Hopfgarten teamed with fellow countryman Benjamin Ludwig Jollage (1781– 1837) to form one of the most esteemed workshops producing architectural souvenirs for Grand Tourists and elite patrons. This example was likely crafted shortly after Jollage’s death.
Capriccio with Figures and Statues before Ruins and an Equestrian Statue c. 1730 Pietro Cappelli (Naples, c. 1700 – 1734) oil on canvas 30 x 40 in L2016.2101.052
Painter Pietro Cappelli’s vision—creative, insistent, and extreme—is dexterously laid out in his architectural fantasies. These are ruin pictures like no others. Many capriccio painters portray places in the context of their surrounding landscapes. Here, buildings and their remains run well past the edges of the frame. It must be asked, are the places Cappelli depicts ruins at all? Unlike the tumbled-down ruins forming the subjects
for other capriccio painters, enough remains intact in Cappelli’s ambiguous architectural world to leave us wondering: what sorts of places are these? This richly painted and extravagantly architectural capriccio is a fine example of Pietro Cappelli’s mature work. The soft, marine sunlight catches the ancient architecture and bronze equestrian sculpture and
casts dramatic shadows across their facades. Cappelli’s figures are engaged in emphatic discussions and strike theatrical poses. Some three centuries later, the wellpreserved canvas retains the original detail of the figures and the delicate vines overgrowing the ruined stone. Owing, at least in part, to Cappelli’s early death, fewer than forty of his works are known today.
Capriccio with Figures among Classical Ruins and Ships Beyond c. 1700 Gennaro Greco (Naples 1663 – 1714 Nola) oil on canvas 19.5 x 30 in L2016.2101.014
As a child, Gennaro Greco’s face was horribly disfigured in a fire, earning him the lifelong nickname Il Mascacotta—literally, “he of the cooked face.” His biographer, however, notes several compensations. The apparently prosperous Greco had three young, beautiful wives and a multitude of sons, including one, Vincenzo, who became a painter. Greco was inspired to paint after studying the work of Andrea Pozzo (1642–1709), who produced remarkably
realistic frescoes that combined illusionistic architectural detail and fantasy. Greco’s earliest work involved painting ornament, temporary stages for religious celebrations, and perspectival frameworks for other artists’ figural projects. Greco’s mature work, of which the example here is characteristic, focuses on carefully rendered views of imaginary ruins—vedute ideate—often set by a
bay with highly detailed ships and other structures beyond. Here, Greco enhances the picture’s depth by rendering the ruins lighter and lower in contrast as they recede into the distance. Greco’s vigorous, swirling rendering of the ships and the waves on which they are tossed are typical expressions of motion in late Baroque painting.
Capriccio with Figures and Statue of Hercules c. 1720 Leonardo Coccorante (Naples, 1680 – 1750) oil on canvas 41 x 61 in L2016.2101.046
Leonardo Coccorante was among the most extravagantly talented artists of those in the circle of Luca Giordano (1634–1705), the Neapolitan master of late Baroque painting. Italian painters of the period were often given nicknames. For Giordano, this was Luca, fa’ presto—literally, “Luca, make it faster.” The name referenced his father’s exhortation to work more quickly, and the son indeed became famous for his high-speed brushwork. Called Il Giordano
di Prospettiva—“the Giordano of Perspective”— Coccorante followed Giordano’s example, painting highly inventive views of imaginary ruins, occasionally at a rate of two per day.
The scene’s inhabitants pursue their business amidst ancient classical ruins and a statue of Hercules battling a mythological beast, all swathed in an eerie twilight.
This large, highly atmospheric capriccio is fully characteristic of Leonardo Coccorante’s mature work and may be dated to the first part of the 18 th century. The artist depicts an antique port and harbor.
“ T his is one of the pleasures of being at Rome, that you are continually seeing the very place and spot of ground where some great thing or other was done, which one has so often admired before in reading their history. This is the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed by Brutus; at the foot of that statue he fell and gave his last groan; here stood Manlius to defend the Capitol against the Gauls; and there afterwards was he flung down that rock for endeavouring to make himself the tyrant of his country; through that and that and that arch always moved the triumphs to this hill.” JOSEPH SPENCE in a letter to his mother while on the Grand Tour (1732)
Table clock c. 1820 Paris; maker unknown; movement by Bazile-Charles Leroy (1765 – 1839) patinated bronze, antique concrete, gilded bronze, Rouge Royale marble, stone 15.5 x 12.25 x 7.5 in L2016.2101.066
At first glance, the bronze figures atop this early 19th century clock appear to represent that familiar emblem of Rome’s foundation mythology—the shewolf with infants Romulus and Remus. Much of the object appears Roman—the fragment of the Tarpeian Rock (from which the most notorious condemned were flung to their deaths in ancient Rome); the golden ouroboros (a Greek mythological snake devouring its own tail) encircling the dial; the marble
base, which, though French, resembles rosso antico, that distinctive ancient Roman decorative stone. However, this wolf and these children are not Roman. Rome’s founding myth proved sufficiently attractive that it was adopted by Siena beginning in the 13 th century. The Sienese version holds that Remus’ sons, Senius and Aschius, fled after their uncle Romulus killed their father. Hungry, they encountered their
own she-wolf, who provided sustenance. This clock’s lupine figure is nearly identical to the wolf depicted in sculpture at the Siena Duomo. Among the Latin and French texts; Roman, Sienese, and Greek myths; Italian and French artisans; and ancient and modern devices, this artifact presents a very complex tale, yet to be decoded.
“ I need to produce great ideas, and I believe that if I were commissioned to design a new universe, I would be mad enough to undertake it.”
GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIRANESI (Mogliano Veneto 1720 – 1778 Rome)
GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIRANESI arrived in Rome in 1740 at the age of twenty as a draftsman in the entourage of the Venetian ambassador to Pope Benedict XIV. Trained as an architect and with experience designing theatrical backdrops, we know from his own account that he was motivated by a desire to “learn from those august relics which still remain of ancient Roman majesty and magnificence, the most perfect there is of Architecture.” At the time, recent archaeological excavations in Italy were fueling a feverish interest in Rome’s antiquity, and the city was the primary destination of those travelling on the Grand Tour. Like other visitors, Piranesi was thoroughly seduced by his environment and became a lifelong champion of Rome’s art and architecture. Upon his arrival, Piranesi focused his attention on the printmaking business in the hopes of finding employment. After a brief and unhappy internship with Rome’s then-preeminent etcher, Giuseppe Vasi (1710–82), Piranesi began producing his own views of the city, or vedute, which were popular with tourists wishing to return home with a souvenir of Rome’s antiquity. Piranesi developed the veduta as an interpretive instrument in his archaeological study of Rome’s ruins, ultimately producing more than one thousand distinct etchings. While today, Piranesi is remembered as a master printmaker, it should not be forgotten that he was, as well, an architect, furniture designer, dealer in classical antiquities, historian, and importantly, among the very first architectural preservationists. Without Piranesi, and the eloquent argument of his etchings testifying to the importance of the city’s ancient ruins, Rome would now be a very different, much diminished place. Portrait of G.B. Piranesi in imitation of an antique bust 1750 Opere Varie di Architettura, Prospettive, Grotteschi, Antichità; Inventate, ed Incise da Gio. Batista Piranesi, Architetto Veneziano Francesco Polanzani (Noale 1700 – 1783 Venice) Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Image Library
THE CARCERI D’INVENZIONE In 1749–50, Piranesi produced a series of fourteen etchings that focused exclusively on the enclosed interiors of prisons. Unlike many of his later vedute produced with specific appeal to the Grand Tourist, these dark and foreboding scenes are the fullest expressions of Piranesi’s vivid and macabre imagination. The fantastic perspectives bear no resemblance to the cramped spaces of Rome’s prisons at that time. Perhaps owing to his training in theatrical design, these views appear as grand and menacing stage sets. Vast and cavernous, with lofty arches rising to imperceptible heights, they simultaneously evoke limitless space and claustrophobic oppression. Piranesi returned to this series again and again, reworking the existing plates and adding two more to produce a second edition of sixteen darker and more detailed etchings in 1760, retitled Carceri d’Invenzione—imaginary prisons. They feature additional bridges, platforms, and a variety of elements—ropes, wheels, spikes, and hooks—that make the prison look like one hellish mechanism. Piranesi’s technique was highly original, relying on the rapid sketch rather than the finished drawing. His pictorial approach defied the conventional linear approach to the medium, earning the scorn of Vasi, who dismissed the newcomer as too much of a painter to ever become an etcher. But contemporaries admired the freshness of Piranesi’s compositions, praising his draftsmanship and his powers of improvisation on the plate itself. Piranesi’s hand-drawn effect resulted from first etching with a stylus on waxed copper plates, and then burnishing away sharper lines while the plate was set in an acid bath. This series displays the artist’s remarkable ability to convey light penetrating from above, with darkening shadows falling upon vaulted walls that recede in the distance. Plate I: Title Plate 1760 Carceri d’Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons); 2nd Edition; 16 Plates Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 – 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 21.5 x 16 in L2016.2101.075
Piranesi’s carceri reflect his fascination with and understanding of the subterranean world in and around his adopted city—the buried cisterns of Castel Gandolfo, the underground vaults of Hadrian’s Villa, and the catacombs along the Appian Way. While he unites and grounds his interiors with a real architectural vocabulary, he purposely employs disorientating invention. Piranesi freely rearranges planes to suit his compositions—cables from pulleys draw improbable lines (Plate VI: The Smoking Fire); a circular opening is inexplicably placed over a grilled doorway to an open space (Plate IX: The Giant Wheel); and wooden beams intersect interior walls with no clear structural function (Plate XIV: The Gothic Arch). As with Piranesi’s exterior views of Rome’s ruins, the scale of his imagined interiors is exaggerated by diminutive figures occupying stairwells and platforms, apparently free to move about, but clearly trapped within an overbearing architecture. These images resonated with successive generations of viewers and their impact is widespread and lasting. The unnerving terror and awe they convey inspired work by the Romanticists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including, quite directly, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1842). The dystopian vision of Piranesi’s vast interiors is evident in the underground city of filmmaker Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and echoes in the paintings of early 20th century Surrealists. And one can hardly imagine the trick perspectives rendered by M. C. Escher (1898– 1972) without the precursor of Piranesi’s impossible arrangements of stairwells. Just as the artist’s vedute of Rome’s ancient architecture continue to inform our perspective of the Eternal City, so too do these prisons of his invention remain with us—an imagined universe that has become real in our collective subconscious. Plate IX: The Giant Wheel 1760 Carceri d’Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons); 2nd Edition; 16 Plates Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 – 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 21.75 x 16 in
Plate IV: The Grand Piazza 1749-50 Carceri dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons); 1st Edition; 14 Plates Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 21.75 x 16 in
Plate VI: The Smoking Fire 1749-50 Carceri dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons); 1st Edition; 14 Plates Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 21.25 x 15.75 in L2016.2101.081
Plate XIV: The Gothic Arch 1749-50 Carceri dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons); 1st Edition; 14 Plates Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 15.75 x 21 in L2016.2101.072
Plate XV: The Pier with a Lamp 1749-50 Carceri dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons); 1st Edition; 14 Plates Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 16 x 21.5 in L2016.2101.069
Plate XI: The Arch with a Shell Ornament 1749-50 Carceri dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons); 1st Edition; 14 Plates Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Mogliano Veneto 1720 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1778 Rome) etching on laid paper 16 x 21.5 in L2016.2101.071
PICTURE FROM TODAY
“ …old ruin paintings, models, and other architectural curiosities—when assembled, form an architectural cabinet of wonders, a compact theater of some large portion of our remembered architectural world.” DAVID WEINGARTEN
PIRANESEUM Lucia Howard and David Weingarten are the principals of Oakland-based Ace Architects, a design practice they founded in 1979. They are also avid collectors of architectural souvenirs. Weingarten’s passion for collecting was inspired by his uncle, architect Charles Moore, who gave his nephew a miniature version of Germany’s Speyer Cathedral as a memento of their twoweek European trip together in the 1970s. Weingarten was struck by how a slight, pot-metal miniature could communicate the architectural essence of this Romanesque monument. In the ensuing decades, Weingarten and Howard pursued souvenirs representing architectural works from around the world, but their primary focus has been on souvenirs sold to those traveling through Europe on the Grand Tour—that essential educational experience for college-age elites from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Their collection includes four types of artifacts— models, decorative arts, paintings, and works on paper. Noteworthy are the significant number of etchings by master printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78), which were prized by 18 th century travelers to Rome who wished to return with detailed views of the city’s ancient architecture. With a collection now numbering more than 400 objects, Howard and Weingarten created Piraneseum as an enterprise to further their scholarship on this subject, make selections available for purchase or trade, and share their collection with the public, both online and through visits by appointment to their home in Lafayette, California.
All objects are from the Collection of Piraneseum. Special thanks to guest curators David Weingarten and Lucia Howard for their generosity and scholarship.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Black, Jeremy. Italy and the Grand Tour. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2003. Campbell, Malcolm, and Allan Ceen. Piranesi: Rome Recorded. New York: The Arthur Ross Foundation, 1989. Carlson, Victor. Hubert Robert: Drawings and Watercolors. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1978. Conisbee, Philip. Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1714-1789. London: The Council, 1976. Ficacci, Luigi. Piranesi: The Complete Etchings. Köln: Taschen, 2016. MacDonald, William L. Piranesi’s Carceri: Sources of Invention. Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1979. Majua, Margaret, and David Weingarten. Souvenir Buildings and Miniature Monuments: From the Collection of Ace Architects. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, 1996. Marshall, David Ryley. Viviano and Niccolò Codazzi and the Baroque Architectural Fantasy. Milan and Rome: Jandi Sapi Editori S.r.l., 1993. Radisich, Paula Rea. Hubert Robert: Painted Scenes of the Enlightenment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Robison, Andrew. Piranesi: Early Architectural Fantasies. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1986. Sestieri, Giancarlo. Il Capriccio Architettonico in Italia nel XVII e XVIII secolo. Rome: Etgraphiae Editoriale, 2015. Stamper, John W. The Architecture of Roman Temples: The Republic to the Middle Empire. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Tice, James T., and James G. Harper. Giuseppe Vasi’s Rome: Lasting Impressions from the Age of the Grand Tour. Eugene, OR: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, 2010. Wilton-Ely, John. Giovanni Battista Piranesi: The Complete Etchings. San Francisco: Alan Wofsy, 1994 Wittkower, Rudolf. Art and Architecture in Italy 1600–1750, Vol II. High Baroque. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
Printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks.