In collaboration with the Generalitat Valenciana.
In addition to the etched portrait of Piranesi executed in 1750 by Felipe Polanzani, the exhibition is comprised of pieces from the collection of the Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia. Ten engravings selected from Piranesi’s most famous work, the Carceri d’invenzione (Imaginary Prisons), which exists in a first edition of 1745 and more importantly in a later edition of 1760 – 1761. In this second edition, Piranesi retouched the older plates created in his youth, accentuating elements already present in the first edition in order to enhance their overall effect. Ten of the sixteen engravings that make up the later edition may be viewed in the present exhibition, including two engravings (II and V) not present in the earlier edition, which consisted of only fourteen prints.
Four prints from the Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome) are exhibited. Besides the Carceri, these prints constitute the artist’s finest work. In them, Piranesi best displays his painterly skill as well as his love for the city where he spent the greater part of his life. It is also in this series, composed of 135 large plates, that he left the greatest testimony to his skill as a master of etching. Begun in 1748, this work occupied Piranesi for thirty years until 1778, the year of his death.
Also exhibited are eight prints from Le antichità romane (Roman Antiquities), a four-volume work published in 1756 by Angelo Rotilj, a press located in Rome’s Palazzo Massimi. This work is the result of Piranesi’s constant studies of the monuments of Rome and its surrounding area. Its first volume includes a total of 87 prints depicting different buildings in the city as well as the portrait of Piranesi engraved by Polanzani in 1750, while the second and third volumes include 90 prints of funerary monuments; the 57 plates that make up the fourth and final volume depict the bridges, theatres and porticos of Rome.
The exhibition concludes with two prints from the Antichità d’Albano e di Castel Gandolfo (Antiquities of Albano and of Castel Gandolfo), a work completed in 1764 and dedicated to Cardinal Rezzonico, who had been elected Pope as Clemente XIII in 1758. Rezzonico, who, like Piranesi, was from Venice, invited the artist to live at his summer residence on several occasions, giving rise to the work that Piranesi would later dedicate to the Pontiff in gratitude.
Exhibition dates and hours:
March 7 - April 3
Mon - Fri from 10:00 AM - 12-Noon
and from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Istituto Italiano di Cultura
2025 M Street NW, Suite 610
Washington, DC 20036
Tel (202)223-9800 Ext. 26