Le Antichità Romane. [Vols. 2, 3, and 4]

Paris: Presso l’autore a Strada Felice nel palazzo Tomati vicino alla Trinità de’ Monti. Circa 1803. Edition: First Paris Edition., Binding: Loose, no binding. , Notes: Very good examples of Piranesi’s monumental work comprising 8 years of studying the “urban structure of ancient Rome in terms of its walls, defenses and aqueducts as well as its civic and religious monuments” (Wilton-Ely, 328).
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 – 1778) was a prominent Italian Classical archaeologist, architect, and artist, famous for his etchings of Rome. Although he was the son of a stonemason and studied structural and hydraulic engineering, Piranesi is best remembered for his monumental etchings, which demonstrate this lifelong interest in architecture and design. As passionate about architecture was, he also about Rome and Roman culture, and in Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, John Wilton-Ely notes that Le Antichità Romane, first published in 1756, established Piranesi as a “leading protagonist of Roman archaeology” (327). In Le Antichità Romane, Piranesi set out to “apply a completely new system of archaeological inquiry to the study of the remains of antiquity” (Wilton-Ely, 328). With the publication of this 4-volume work, Piranesi sought to “develop a whole new range of specialized illustration in order to reveal aspects of antiquity which had hitherto been largely neglected. His aim, as with all his archeological publications, was two-fold—to record the vanishing past for scholars and to inspire contemporary designers to emulate the achievements of the past” (Wilton-Ely, 327).
Volumes 2 and 3 “are devoted to the extensive remains of tombs and funerary monuments around Rome” (Wilton-Ely 328). In the fourth volume, Piranesi expounds “the heroic feats of Roman engineering represented by bridges and monumental structures like the Curia Hostilia (the substructure of the Temple of Claudius), Hadrian’s Mausoleum (the Castel Sant’Angelo), and the Theatre of Marcellus. In the exaggerated scale and the concern with technology of these latter works, there are already signs of Piranesi’s attempts to counteract the increasing claims for the superiority of Greek art and architecture being made by Winckelmann and Laugier” (Wilton-Ely 328). The plates of the Antichità, as Wilton-Ely notes, also include works by other artists such as Francesco Bianchini and Girolomo Rossi (327-8). This edition was re-published by Piranesi’s son Francesco in 1803.
, Size: Large Folio. , Illustration: Vol. 2 with 45 plates, lacking 18: I, II, IX, X, XIII, XV, XVI, XXII, XXV, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXV, XLII, XLIV, XLVI, LVI, LX, LXIII.
Vol. 3 with 29, lacking 25: I, II, VI, VIII, XII, XIV, XV, XVIII, XIX, XXVI-XXIX, XL, XLII-XLVIII, L-LIII.
Vol. 4 with 53, including additional unnumbered plate particular to 2nd edition, lacking 5: II, IV, XVI, XVIII, XXI.
, Volume: Three volumes., Provenance: Ex-Libris Edward Francis Searles, an architect and interior designer of the late 19th to early 20th century., References: John Wilton-Ely, Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, vol. 1, pp. 327-583, Category: Book Art, Architecture & Design; Book Europe Italy;. Some pages with spotting or minor foxing to wide margins. Vol. 4 last leaves with minor damp stains to corners, not affecting plates. Plates otherwise clean and crisp, strong impressions. Many plates double-page and fold-out. Item #B6769

Price: $13,000.00

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