Piranesi drawings: visions of antiquity
Sarah Vowles and Hugo Chapman
The first exploration of Piranesi’s work as a draughtsman, published to coincide with an exhibition at the British Museum.
The Venetian-born artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) is best known for his dramatic prints of the architecture and antiquities of his adopted city of Rome, and for the extraordinary flights of spatial fancy in his series Le Carceri (Prisons). But he was also an astonishingly talented draughtsman, as revealed in this outstanding collection of drawings at the British Museum.
This book explores the relationship between Piranesi’s drawings and prints, and reveals the way in which his style and interests as a draughtsman evolved over time. Some are spontaneous ‘primi pensieri’, first thoughts that anticipate a bigger work; others explore more complex exercises in perspective and spatial representation. Piranesi drawings reveals the quality and lasting impact of the work of this remarkably influential artist.
Sarah Vowles is Hamish Swanston Curator of Italian and French Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. Hugo Chapman is Simon Sainsbury Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum.