Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian master printmaker of the 18th century. Piranesi is best remembered for his highly detailed etchings and engravings, which document both real and imagined architecture in Rome.
Prison IX – The Giant Wheel. 2nd state. 1749. Etching
Self Portrait. 1720. Etching
Piranesi was born in the former Republic of Venice where his uncle first introduced him to architecture and restoration. Piranesi moved to Rome as a young man to work as a draughtsman. Soon after moving to Rome, Piranesi was exposed to engraving and etching. Over the following decades, Piranesi made numerous print editions. In the 1760s Piranesi opened his own print shop. Piranesi’s most iconic print series include the Views (Vedute), which used neoclassical style to depict modern and ancient ruins. The Prisons (Carceri) is another well-known series that depicts imaginary prisons. The prison series consisted of fourteen plates, which were reworked and printed a second time.
Pyramid of Cestius. 1700s. Etching
Colosseum. 1756. Etching
The Drawbridge. Plate VII. The Imaginary Prisons. Etching
Today, Piranesi’s prints are still appreciated by art collectors, historians, architects and archeologists alike. His style has had a lasting impact on technical drawing in a number of fields. Piranesi prints are some of the finest examples 18th century etching and engraving.