24. Giovanni Battista Piranesi
(1720-1778)

Frontispiece with the Statue of Minerva

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Piranesi, Frontispiece

Frontispiece with the Statue of Minerva

Etching, ca. 1748, from the Vedute di Roma, Hind 2 iii/vii, Focillon 786, 500 x 635 mm. Fine impression with strong contrasts on laid paper with the watermark of a fleur-de-lis in a double circle (Hind 3) with good margins; the usual flattened center fold, one tiny circle of faint staining, pale ink smudges in the left margin. Though Piranesi rarely lacked chances to employ his imagination, as in the purposeful exaggerations and distortions of his views of Roman monuments and ruins, frontispieces and title pages opened the doors wide to fantastic compositions and the piling up of myriad artistic and architectural fragments. Such is the case here, where the statue of Minerva (presumably derived from the statue in the Campidoglio) is merely a central point for a phantasmagoria of ancient architecture, ruins, statuary and vegetation and even a pair of real-life figures clambering over a bridge. Truly the vision of a virtuoso antiquarian. The impression is assuredly lifetime.

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