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For some years past I have admired and 
collected the etchings of Piranesi, and feeling 
a desire to know more about this wonderful 
man and his son Francesco, I have gathered 
together such facts as are available. The 
result is this monograph which deals not 
only with the etchings which are, for the 
most part, of views of Rome and its ancient 
remains, but also with the influence the 
etchings have had upon the architecture 
and decorative schemes associated with the 
names of the brothers Adam, and upon the 
furniture designs of Chippendale, Sheraton 
and their successors. 

The monograph must, however, be read 


only on the distinct understanding that the 
composition of its pages contains nothing 
original so far as I am concerned. If the 
result of the perusal be satisfactory to the 
reader the credit will not be mine ; if, on 
the other hand, it be unsatisfactory I shall 
be ready to accept responsibility. I have 
levied toll upon every available work of 
authority, standard or otherwise, in English, 
French and Italian, and whatever I have 
found I have taken, lock, stock and barrel, 
and with such catholicity that, for fear of 
placing too exhausting a strain upon my 
printer's supply of subsidiary types, I have 
not given references, and I have not used as 
many inverted commas as I ought other- 
wise to have done. 

A few reproductions are given in this 
volume for the purpose of conveying an 
idea of the general character of Piranesi's 
etchings. It should be borne in mind, 


however, that the original etchings suffer 
in being reduced from their very large size 
to the small proportions of the present 
reproductions. In most cases the original 
etchings measure not less than 25 inches 
by 15 inches, many indeed are much larger. 
My publisher, Mr. Herbert Batsford, has 
taken considerable trouble to collate the 
etchings, the list of which I give, and I 
hope the student will find it of service. 
Every effort has been made to render it 
as perfect as possible. I have to thank 
him for many valuable suggestions and for 
the great pains he has taken in the pro- 
duction of the book. 


48 Montagu Square, 

Marble Arch, W. 

October 1910. 


The Reproductions in this volume are given for 
the purpose of conveying a rough idea of the 
character of Piranesi's Etchings. The originals 
from which they have been taken are very large, 
in many cases they measure 25 x 15 inches. The 
reduction in size, resulting from the process of 
reproduction, has decreased the particular effects 
which distinguish the originals. 











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" My two friends came as expected, also Missie, and 
staid till half-past two. Promised Sharpe the set of 
Piranesi's views in the dining parlour. They belonged to 
my Uncle, so I do not like to sell them." — Sir Walter 
Scott's Diary, Feb. 14, 1826 (Lockhart's Life). 

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the etcher 
of the views which hung in Sir Walter 
Scott's dining parlour, was born at Venice 
on October 4, 1720, not 1707 as stated 
by Michaud, and he died at Rome on 
November 9, 1778, of a trifling illness 
rendered fatal by neglect. His father was 
a man in humble circumstances, a mason, 
perhaps a foreman mason, and familiarly 
known by the nickname " Torbo celega " — 
" the foolish blind man," for he was blind 
of one eye. Temanza, a fellow-pupil with 
Giovanni under their master. Scalfarotto, 

describes the father as a shoemaker, but that 
description is unconfirmed and should be 
disregarded. Giovanni's mother was Laura, 
sister of the engineer and architect Lucchesi, 
who had constructed waterworks and had 
built the Church of San Giovanni Novo at 
Venice, and it was from his uncle Lucchesi 
that Piranesi received his first lessons in 
Art, but, says Temanza, as both were of a 
" stravagante " nature, they soon quarrelled 
and parted. 

Towards the end of 1737 Piranesi, 
who had been taking instruction from 
Onofrio Mascati, began to dream of Rome. 
Francesca Corraghi, the young girl to 
whom he was attached, had on the death of 
her parents come from Rome to live with 
friends at Venice. She fired his ambition, 
she spoke to him of Rome, of Rome with its 
infinite Art treasures, and persuaded him to 
go thither and try his fortune. Notwith- 
standing his parents' opposition, he persisted 
in his determination to obtain their consent 


to follow the career marked out for him 
by Francesca and to leave Venice. From 
earliest childhood he had been famed for 
uncommon beauty of countenance and for 
extraordinarily precocious powers. At the 
age of eight he was able to portray the 
architectural beauties of Venice. At ten 
he could construct from his own imagina- 
tion designs for buildings, and it is said that 
Venetian masons even then took ideas from 
his drawings. At fifteen his name was 
known on the Rialto, and his father was 
confident he would make his way success- 
fully in the trade which he himself followed. 
By the time, however, that he had reached 
his seventeenth year Giovanni had given 
such ample proof of ability and aptitude 
that his father was finally induced to send 
the boy to Rome to study architecture and 
engraving, and although it was Francesca 
Corraghi who had inspired him to go for- 
ward and strike out for himself, while he was 
at Rome at work on the Campo Vaccino 

she threw him over to marry the Conte 
d'Amalfi. Furnished with an allowance 
from his father of six Spanish piastres a 
month — about five shillings in English 
money — Giovanni reached Rome in 1738, 
and began his studies under Valeriani, Vasi, 
Scalfarotto, and other masters. 

Through Ricci of Belluno (born 1680) 
and Pannini (born 1691) was transmitted 
to Piranesi that taste for imaginative land- 
scape painting cultivated by Gellee (born 
1600, and better known as Claude de 
Lorrain). Gellde had stimulated Ricci and 
Pannini to devote their talents to imagina- 
tive compositions, using as materials the 
moss-clad ruins with which Rome was 
covered, and which served, in Rome as well 
as in the Campagna, as habitations for a 
picturesque population of ragged beggars, 
robbers, and outlaws. The stairs of the 
Colosseum itself had long been hidden under 
a thick growth of clematis, and the forest of 
ilex and myrtle in the Baths of Caracalla 


rridlf ". 3 . 


was still existing in 1818, some years after 
Piranesi's death, when Shelley, then on his 
way to the villa at Este lent him by Byron, 
composed his Prometheus Unbound beneath 
its shadow. 

Ricci had been Valeriani's master, and from 
Valeriani Piranesi absorbed the style of Ricci, 
and, no doubt, some of his taste for romantic 
subjects, witness such of Piranesi's plates as 
are creations of fancy. But the work he 
turned out with the assistance of his own 
force of imagination and his mastery of the 
etching tools was superior to that of Ricci 
or of Pannini. Valeriani was a great master 
of perspective, and Piranesi owes much to 
him, as does he also to Vasi, the Sicilian, 
who gave him a thorough knowledge of 
the art of etching ; but Vasi's engravings, 
although full of careful execution and 
quality, look insipid when compared 
with the bold work in Piranesi's plates. 
It was Vasi who first filled the young 
Goethe with a desire to visit Italy, and 


the very engravings of Vasi which thus 
inspired Goethe now hang in the Goethe- 
Haus at Frankfort. 

When little more than twenty years of 
age, Piranesi, fancying that his instructor 
Vasi was hiding from him the true secret 
of the uses of aqua fortis, actually at- 
tempted to murder him. According to 
Biagi, Piranesi's suspicions were not entirely 
baseless, as Vasi had become jealous of his 
pupil. Vasi appears to have treated the 
matter lightly, for it ended in his simply 
turning Piranesi out of his studio. 

Tall in person, of dark complexion, with 
restless bright eyes, despondent and exult- 
ant by rapid changes, imaginative, jealous, 
perhaps vain to a high degree, always 
eager to annoy his neighbour, the young 
Piranesi vividly recalls Benvenuto Cellini 
in temperament and character. It is not 
indeed to be wondered at that a man so 
generously endowed by nature with an 
intensely vivid imagination, should have 

been highly sensitive and irritable. Nor 
must it be forgotten that men possessed of 
real force of character are never altogether 
pleasant in disposition. Strongly conscious 
of his own power, he thought himself 
capable of great things, valuing himself 
highly, and brooking neither opposition 
nor contradiction, nor indeed anything that 
he suspected to contain the slightest tinge 
of disparagement of his work or of 
his opinion, let alone of himself 
personally. Throughout the whole of his 
life Piranesi never lost an opportunity of 
eagerly advancing more than half-way to 
meet any person who had the slightest 
inclination for a quarrel, and he was per- 
petually involved in some sort of dispute. 
Even the Delia Magnificenza ed Architettura 
de Romania with 44 plates and 200 pages 
of letterpress in Latin and Italian (a work 
which added considerably to his fame 
and which gained for him the " croce 
equestre "), was merely Piranesi's rejoinder 


in a controversy with Marietta, the author 
of Delle Gemme incise degli Antichi, 

An argument had been started in the 
London Investigator in 1755, and to the 
discussion Piranesi contributed this work in 
defence of his assertion that Rome owed her 
monuments to Etruscan and not to Greek 
models, and that the Romans were not, as 
stated by the Investigator^ a barbarous people 
before the conquest of Greece, or, in the 
words of the Investigator^ " a gang of mere 
plunderers sprung from those who had been 
but a little while before their conquest 
of Greece naked thieves and runaway 
slaves." As was his habit with every- 
thing in which he took an interest, Piranesi 
threw himself into an exhaustive study of 
the question. The result of his researches 
was that he became convinced that the 
Romans had taken their architectural 
models from the Etruscans rather than 
from the Greeks, and that long before the 
Romans had invaded Greece the principal 


Roman temples, aqueducts, and roads had 
been magnificently built and with a correct 
knowledge of architecture and engineering, 
but that after the conquest greater splendour 
had been introduced into architectural work 
in Italy. This view he henceforward upheld 
under all circumstances against every one 
and on every occasion, never losing an 
opportunity of proclaiming his opinion on 
the subject aggressively and of championing 
it, when proclaimed, even to the limit of 
his powers of acrimonious expression. He 
was quite wrong in his views about Paestum 
(page 14) in this connection, though pro- 
bably right in what he said about Rome. 
So important was the influence of these 
particular opinions on his work that it may 
perhaps be permitted to digress for a 
moment in order to consider how far modern 
research in Rome itself will be able to sup- 
port Piranesi's views, seeing that during 
the 130 years that have elapsed since the 
etcher's death extensive explorations have 


been pushed forward in the Basilica iEmilia. 
These excavations are likely to have con- 
siderable bearing on Piranesi's theories, 
because near the Basilica is the Curia Julia, 
and not far from the Curia Julia is the spot 
upon which was built, about the year 640 
B.C., the Curia Hostilia. When the time 
comes for laying bare the site of the Curia 
Julia modern archaeologists anticipate that 
slabs will be found bearing records of the 
decrees of the Senate in the days of Tar- 
quinius Prisons. These same slabs will be 
those known to have been removed from 
the Curia Hostilia and placed in the Curia 
Julia, and if they do actually bear Etruscan 
as well as Roman inscriptions they will 
afford strong evidence in support of 
Piranesi's opinions ; for, according to some 
authorities, Tarquinius Prisons, who greatly 
increased the number and dignity of the 
Senate, was not only of Etruscan birth, 
but it was he who conquered the twelve 
nations of Etruria. There is every reason, 


therefore, to assume that he was familiar 
with Etruscan characteristics and with the 
beauties of the national architecture, and 
that they appealed to one, himself of 
Etruscan birth, with the consequence that 
he drew freely upon Etruscan models for 
ideas. Piranesi contended that, with such 
assistance, Tarquinius was enabled to lay 
the foundations of the Capitol, and to adorn 
Rome with the buildings of restrained 
magnificence which, at the end of several 
centuries, were regarded by Romans of 
Nero's day with admiration greater than 
that inspired by the buildings erected by 
that stupendous artist himself The Cloaca 
of Rome has always been said to have been 
built by the Etruscans in the time of the 
Roman kings, for the Etruscans were among 
the first in the use of the Arch,^ and if 

^ Professor Flinders Petrie discovered at Dendera in 
Egypt a passage 6 feet wide covered w^ith barrel vaults 
dating from 3500 B.C. This is perhaps the earliest known 
example of the Arch. (See Architecture of Greece and Rome^ 
by Anderson h Phene Spiers, p. 147.) 


Other work dating from the days of Tar- 
quinius Priscus can be brought to light 
bearing bilingual inscriptions and treated 
with Etruscan feeling, at any rate the 
hypothesis of the Etruscan origin of the 
architecture of Rome urged by Piranesi 
will be placed almost beyond the region 
of doubt. 

After the rupture with Vasi, Piranesi 
made his way back to Venice and en- 
deavoured to earn a living there as an 
architect, studying at the same time under 
Tiepolo, who gave him instruction in 
historical painting. With Polanzani he 
studied figure design. Attaining, however, 
little financial success at Venice, he returned 
to Rome, and thence went to Naples to paint. 
But it soon became clear to him that his 
powers did not lie in that branch of art. 

Interest in archaeological matters was the 
chief reason for his journey to Naples. He 
visited Paestum and Pompeii, and also 
Herculaneum, which had been discovered 


in 171 1 by Charles in. of the Two Sicilies. 
Although the Theatre at Herculaneum was 
below the level of the ground and in 
almost total darkness, his imagination and 
instinctive knowledge realised what the 
whole had originally been like. Using 
such information as the discoverers had 
by that time acquired, he made a plan of 
the Theatre, supplying details of which there 
was no record, according to his own ideas 
of what the structure had been. In after 
years it was his intention to publish 
etchings of these researches, and he had 
planned to proceed with them as soon as 
he had finished the etchings of Hadrian's 
Villa at Tivoli. In this he was forestalled 
by death. He died while he was at work 
upon the plates of Hadrian's Villa. The 
etchings of Herculaneum were eventually 
finished and published, in 1783, after his 
death, by his son Francesco, and dedicated 
to Gustavus III. of Sweden. There are 
evidences, however, that Francesco in this 


connection made use of Palladio's Le Terme 
del Romani. 

Perhaps Hadrian's Villa was the subject 
to which he devoted more time than to 
any other subject he took in hand. It 
covered an exceedingly large area, but he 
succeeded in arriving at a general plan of 
the entire Villa and in reconstituting it on 
paper, using for a basis such remains as 
existed. As time went on further dis- 
coveries were made, and Piranesi's plans, 
confirmed by fresh and elaborate measure- 
ments carried out by others, were regarded 
as masterpieces of inspiration. 

From Naples he went to Passtum ; he 
there surveyed the Temple of Neptune, 
and adduced what he called the unmis- 
takable signs of Etruscan work present in 
that building to support his argument and 
opinion that the Etruscans had produced 
fine buildings long before the settlement of 
the Greeks in that part of Italy. Besides 
the Temple of Neptune there are two other 


temples, and they are referred to in detail 
farther on in these pages (see page 128). 
They are all certainly of Doric origin. Ap- 
parently no ancient writer mentions them, 
and they were unknown to archaeologists 
until they were referred to and described in 
1745 by Antonini. Piranesi either did not 
know of or ignored the fact that, from a 
period dating, roughly, as far back as 750 
years before the Augustan age, all Southern 
Italy was sown with important Dorian 
Greek cities. There were Crotona and 
Sybaris on the Bay of Tarentum, Paestum 
itself being a colony of Sybaris. Locri 
on the Adriatic was another great Dorian 
Greek city, and all of them were adorned 
with large temples similar to those at 
Passtum. These temples differed materially 
from the Etruscan temples in the north of 
Italy ; not only were they much larger than 
the Etruscan temples, but they had at least 
one other very distinct difference, for while 
the columns in Doric temples had no bases 


Vitruvius states that there were bases to 
the columns in Etruscan temples. 

Leaving Naples, Piranesi came north again 
to Rome, determined to settle in that city and 
to devote himself to engraving and etching. 

At Rome he lived in great straits, which 
were intensified by his refusal to obey his 
father's wish that he should return to Venice 
and start afresh in his native city, the result 
of this refusal being the thrifty reprisal often 
associated with parental displeasure, the stop- 
page of the son's allowance. 

Months passed in desultory but useful 
study of etching and painting, and although 
Piranesi evidently desired to be able to 
paint, he finally realised that he did not 
possess the necessary ability, and gave up 
the attempt for good. No examples of 
painting by Piranesi are recorded. 

Thrown on his own resources, he directed 
all his powers to etching, and in about 
1 74 1, when he was twenty-one years old, 
published four romantic compositions of 


ruins framed in a decoration of scrolls and 
volutes of the type peculiar to the period. 
They are not dated, but they indicate 
where Piranesi was living ; on them is 
his address — near the French Academy, 
in the Corso, opposite the Palazzo Doria 
Pamphili. These four compositions are 
often found in the volume entitled 
Opere Varie published by Bouchard in 
1750. In 1748 were published the first of 
his etchings which are dated ; he called 
them Anttchith Romane de Tempi delta 
Repubblica e de' primi Imperatori^ etc. 
{Arc hi Trionfali Antic hi Tempi^ etc.). 
Roma 1748. They include 30 plates of 
views of several Roman buildings in the 
provinces, such as the Amphitheatre of 
Verona, and the Triumphal Arches of Pola 
in Istria, of Ancona, and of Rimini. He 
dedicated them to the literary antiquary 
Bottari, private chaplain to the etcher's 
patron, Pope Benedict xiv. Monsignore 
Bottari was the discoverer of the twelfth- 


century manuscript of The Vision of 
Alberico^ from which, says Isaac D' Israeli, 
Dante had borrowed or stolen the Inferno. 
These Antichita plates were reissued, under 
the same date, with the title altered to 
Alcune vedute di Archi Trionfali^ etc., and 
two fresh plates by Francesco were added. 

Fascinated even from the first moment of 
his arrival by the silent stones and shattered 
monuments of Rome, Piranesi worked with 
the utmost diligence. Intensely interested 
by what he saw, his heart and soul were 
set aglow with a feeling partly of pride and 
partly of awe at the splendour he saw or 
imagined around him ; and it is indelibly 
stamped upon his earliest as on his latest 
work that his aim was not so much to 
imitate as to describe, to explain, to compel 
others to become conscious of, and to value, 
the noble beauty which was visible to himself. 

He claimed that his etchings would 
bring him undying fame. " I do dare 
to believe,'* he wrote, " that, like Horace, 


I have executed a work which will go 
down to posterity, and which will endure 
for as long as there are men desirous of 
knowing all that has survived until our day, 
of the ruins of the most famous city of the 
universe." This is pompous. But at least 
the example of Milton may be quoted in 
Piranesi's defence. In his Reasons of Church 
Government Milton in 1641-42 declares his 
resolution to take full time for meditation 
on a fit subject, and he informs the world 
that it may expect the production of a great 
poem from his pen "... a work not to be 
raised from the heat of youth or the vapour 
of wine, . . . nor to be obtained by the 
invocation of Dame Memory and her seven 
daughters, but by devout prayer to that 
Eternal Spirit who can enrich with all 
utterance, ... to this must be added 
industrious and select reading, study, 
observation and insight into all seemly 
opinions, arts and affairs.'' Piranesi was 
self-conscious in good company. In the 


Preface of the Antichith Ro?7tane he says : 
" When I first saw the remains of the 
ancient buildings of Rome lying as they 
do in cultivated fields or in gardens and 
wasting away under the ravages of time, or 
being destroyed by greedy owners who sell 
them as materials for modern buildings, I 
determined to preserve them for ever by 
means of my engravings, and the reigning 
Pope Benedict xiv. assisted me with his 
generosity and encouraged me in my labours." 
Quite without means, he set poverty at 
defiance. He worked day and night, 
denying himself the proper sleep which a 
straw mattress — his sole worldly possession 
— might have afforded him. Juvenal's 
description of Codrus with his one bed 
and his statue of a Centaur, in a garret 
among the pigeons' nests, aptly fits the 
conditions under which Piranesi lived — 

" . . . quern tegula sola tuetur 
a pluvia, molles ubi reddunt ova columbae." 

But, toiling with enthusiasm and with un- 


conquerable perseverance, he burst through 
all difficulties. Models and instructors 
being beyond his means, he worked 
from grotesque figures and sights at hand 
in the streets, using cripples, and even the 
meat hanging in the butchers' shops, as 
studies. Some of these drawings were 
known to exist in the collection of Prince 
Rezzonico. Ragged beggars were special 
favourites with him for a similar purpose, 
and of their picturesqueness, reminiscent of 
Callot, he afterwards made effective use in 
many of his plates ; in some of the plates 
the costumes of the period add interest. 

A manuscript Life of Piranesi is said to 
have been in the possession of Priestley & 
Weale, publishers, of London, in 1830, 
but no trace can now be found of it. 
The details of his life, however, are written 
in his etchings ; without their aid there is 
little enough to be told about him person- 
ally. In his plates alone stand the records 
of each day's acts and thoughts, but the 


very copiousness of his output shows at 
once how little time was available wherein 
anything could happen to Piranesi in 
matters outside his workroom. Such 
incidents indeed as did occur were closely 
concerned with his etching needle. They 
consisted mostly of quarrels and arguments ; 
as a rule they were about petty matters, 
and, unfortunately, with almost any person 
with whom Piranesi came in contact. The 
physical effort of producing by his own 
hand a work of great magnitude, and at 
the same time indulging in a personal 
disagreement or dispute about artistic 
technicalities, with this or that friend 
or foe, amply filled up Piranesi's days. 
When he was not working and disputing 
simultaneously he was disputing only, and 
when not disputing he was at work, 
etching with a savage fierceness in 
defence of his latest contention. 

His mark was made immediately 
the impressions from his first plates ap- 


peared. Assisted by a brilliant needle 
and a delicate touch, he conveyed his own 
enthusiasm to all who examined his work. 
At Rome it was soon perceived that he 
possessed the skill to deal with architectural 
subjects in a manner incomparably superior 
to that in which such subjects had hitherto 
been treated. His fiery, contemptuous, 
quarrelsome disposition had made him con- 
spicuous ; a singularly facile and vigorous 
pencil now gained him distinction, and the 
growing fashion for archaeological research 
was confirmed, if not set, by Piranesi. 

His plates appeared with inscriptions 
disclosing a wealth of arch^ological in- 
formation, and these inscriptions Bianconi, 
who wrote Piranesi's obituary notice in 
the Antologia Romana^ states were the 
outcome of assistance from Bottari and 
the learned Jesuit Father Contucci. But 
various authorities, among others Tipaldo, 
contradict this allegation, and Piranesi's 
son, in after years, put forward docu- 


mentary evidence to prove that not only 
was Piranesi quite capable of composing 
the inscriptions, but that he was well versed 
in a knowledge of both Latin and Greek. 
A quarrel with Volpi, respecting some 
temples, also proved his antiquarian know- 
ledge, and, on the whole, the evidence 
goes to show that the inscriptions may be 
attributed to the etcher himself. 

His excitable nature, stimulated by an 
ardent admiration for the remains of Rome, 
urged Piranesi to work with such impetu- 
osity that, frequently, he had not the patience 
to devote any time to making studies or 
sketches. In many cases he simply drew 
his subject on the plate and completed it al- 
most entirely by etching in aqua fortis, and 
with little assistance from the graver. This 
method accounts for the rapidity with which 
he threw off great numbers of etchings, 
most of them very large in size and crowded 
with architectural detail expressed in a 
manner calculated to arrest and retain the 


attention of the average man. He took 
great care to discover the point of view 
from w^hich his subject would be regarded 
by the ordinary spectator. A master of 
perspective, he was able to carry con- 
viction to the least technical eye. In the 
estimation of his fellow-craftsmen he was 
distinguished by the peculiar skill which 
enabled him to convey the effect of dis- 
tance by gradation of tone. With him the 
swelling line was employed continually for 
the purpose of obtaining bold contrasts, and 
this is the reason why his etchings gain so 
greatly in effect if hung on a wall as pictures, 
and at a distance, as compared with the effect 
produced on the eye when they are examined 
in a folio. Like Pannini, the chief point 
in his plates is usually the foreground ; 
Piranesi throws great masses of buildings 
straight into the eye of the spectator. 

Boldness of imagination and force of 
execution enabled him even to increase the 
majesty of a subject under treatment. He 


drew the side of a building or a row of 
columns in such a way that an effect of in- 
terminable distance was obtained; and to add 
solemnity to ruins he cast over them festoons 
of weird foliage, now like ivy and now 
like seaweed. Dense foliage actually existed 
among the ruins ; the monuments, aqueducts, 
tombs, and palaces of Rome were indeed 
covered with a jungle-like growth of trees, 
and Piranesi made full use of the romantic 
effect lent by the vegetation. The Rome 
of classical days still presented in the 
eighteenth century a mournful scene not 
alone of ruined but also of neglected mag- 
nificence. The noble splendour of her 
architecture was almost obliterated, and little 
was left of stately streets, once the pride of 
Augustus himself, to bear silent witness to 
having endured the blows of every indignity. 
That which had been the palace of the 
Caesars Totila had reduced to a mound of 
rubbish, and the wind had sown it with a 
forest of tangled shrubs. The Forum, to 


whose decrees the whole world had bowed, 
was Cows' Field, and men spoke of the 
Capitol as Goats' Hill. Aqueducts, marvels 
of construction, bridged a desolated Com- 
pagna with such spans as had survived 
mutilation by Vitiges. No more than a 
third of the Colosseum remained ; it had 
been in turn a fortress, a stone quarry, 
a woollen mill, and a saltpetre factory. 
Smothered in weeds it had at length, with 
420 different kinds of plants, trees, and 
shrubs, provided material for a botanical 
treatise entitled "The Flora of the Colos- 
seum." A plantation of wild fig trees 
covered the Arch of Titus. The Tiber 
had from time to time flooded Rome 
and earthquakes had shaken her to the 
foundations. But it was the hand of man 
that had done the worst. Norman Guiscard 
had burnt the city from end to end and from 
side to side, the Constable of Bourbon had 
sacked it ; Lombards, Goths, Vandals, and 
Saracens had laid it waste. The builders of 


St. Peter's had pulled down the Septizonium 
of Severus and had used its stones for their 
own purposes, and the very tomb of the 
Saint was indebted for a portion of its 
embellishment to columns cast from bronze 
knaved from the roof of the Pantheon. 
The Popes and their kinsfolk had desecrated 
and devastated the buildings of classical 
Rome with ruthless hands, and that which 
they had left undone had been accomplished 
by hordes of those barbarians whose invasions 
were, according to Machiavelli, often the 
outcome of Papal invitation or connivance. 

Most people are incapable of transferring to 
paper the representation of a scene or object 
before them, many cannot even draw a double 
cube in perspective. To such persons the 
facility with which Piranesi has drawn com- 
positions and subjects, architectural and 
natural, involving intricate treatment of per- 
spective will appear to be what Mr. Glad- 
stone would have described as " devilish.'' 
To some the fascinating effects of Piranesi's 


skilful perspective are wont to give rise to 
an uneasy suspicion that it is the result of a 
trick, or sleight of hand, and these will regard 
his work as a sceptical public usually regards 
the minutely carved boxwood nuts and rosary 
beads to be seen in the British Museum, with 
admiration based upon wonder, and will not 
receive from it an aesthetic sensation pro- 
duced by appreciation of the Beautiful. 

There is a picturesque if unconfirmed 
legend that in order the better to obtain the 
light and shade effects, some of the principal 
characteristics of his etchings, Piranesi 
studied by daylight the scene he proposed to 
etch, half completed the plate, and then, 
having saturated his memory with the 
details necessary for the picture, finished the 
plate at night, on the spot, by the light of a 
full moon. In many cases he imparted a 
studied disorder into the treatment of the 
details of the subject for the purpose of 
making the plate more interesting. 

He dealt indiscriminately with subjects of 


all kinds, reproducing ancient ruins as well 
as standing buildings of more recent date. 
He took minute and accurate measurements, 
and many of the etchings contain a multitude 
of measured details of ancient and mediaeval 
architecture, of which, up to his day, there 
had existed absolutely no record. In respect 
of these details alone Piranesi is of the utmost 
value to the architect of to-day, and parti- 
cularly to the student of the early Renaissance. 
It is difficult to estimate the whole 
extent to which Piranesi depended on 
others for artistic assistance. Not all the 
plates were entirely his own unassisted work. 
The figures in some of Piranesi's plates were 
etched by Jean Barbault, more particularly 
in those plates dealing with sepulchral 
monuments, and as Barbault's name appears 
on such plates in addition to that of Piranesi, 
the amount of his assistance can be readily 
ascertained. There are three plates in the 
Antichita Romane engraved by Girolamo 
Rossi — one of the three was drawn by 


Antonio Buonamini. Piranesi took pupils, 
employing them to help him, and among 
those whom he taught was Piroli, a man of 
considerable parts. Beyond Barbault's work 
the assistance from pupils and others could 
not have amounted to much. Piranesi's 
style was of so individual a character that 
were there any important work by another 
hand it could be easily detected in the etch- 
ings. Little or no such traces are to be 
found in the etchings, and, as none of 
Piranesi's pupils have produced work which 
had caught Piranesi's style, it may be 
assumed that if work other than Piranesi's 
were present in the vital portions of a plate 
it would be noticed without difficulty. His 
pupil Piroli is well known as a friend of 
the gentle-spirited John Flaxman, R. A. He 
did part of the work for Flaxman's illustra- 
tions of Homer, Dante, iEschylus, and Hesiod, 
under Flaxman's personal supervision. 

Towards the end of Piranesi's life his 
children were of assistance ; but of his five 


children only two were old enough, before 
their father's death, to be of real help, namely, 
Francesco, born in 1748, and Laura, born 
in 1750. They both etched somewhat in 
their father's style, and Francesco did fair 
work, as may be best seen in the Paestum 
etchings ; a diligent worker, he possessed to 
some extent the power by which his father's 
work is marked, but in imagination and taste 
he was entirely lacking. After their father's 
death they turned to print-selling more than 
to producing, and Francesco and Laura, 
joined by their brother Pietro, published at 
Rome a quantity of engravings, and among 
them several sets of Piroli's engravings. 

The frontispiece of this volume is repro- 
duced from a portrait of Piranesi which his 
son Francesco engraved after the painting 
of Guisseppe Cades. Francesco etched the 
// Teatro d'Ercolano plates which were pre- 
sumably made up from his father's drawings, 
with the assistance of Palladio's Le Terme 
del Romani, These etchings show the rela- 


tive difference in the quality of the father's 
ability as compared with that of the son. 
But in any case, however good Francesco 
may be considered, he suffers by comparison, 
as is usually the case where a son has to 
compete with his father's reputation. 

Piroli the pupil drew the statue executed 
by Angelini which sometimes appears 
bound up with the works of Piranesi; the 
plate was engraved by Francesco.^ The 
statue itself was erected in the Priorato di 
Malta which was at one time connected 
with the Church of Santa Maria Aventina. 
It is mentioned by Baron Stolberg in his 
Travels, This church Piranesi restored 
about the year 1765, and there he lies buried, 
although immediately after death his body 
was taken to S. Andrea della Fratte, where 
it remained till it was decided that Santa 
Maria Aventina should be its final resting- 
place. There existed in Rome, and there is no 
reason to suppose that it has been destroyed, 

^ A reproduction of this plate is given in this volume. 


but it cannot be traced, a bust of Piranesi 
by Alessandro D'Este, the cost of which 
Canova defrayed. It used to stand in the 
Palace of the Conservatori. His contem- 
porary Bianconi declares the bust to be a 
bad likeness. 

Santa Maria del Popolo also is one of 
Piranesi's restorations. Restorers, justly or 
unjustly, do not as a rule seem to be 
favourites with mankind ; but in the case 
of Santa Maria del Popolo the restorer has 
left little or no opening for fault-finding. 
How reverently and well he did his work 
is proved by the fact that Santa Maria 
del Popolo, notwithstanding the restorations, 
is still considered by students to contain 
original specimens of the most splendid 
types of Renaissance Art. But Lanciani 
condemns Piranesi's restoration of II 
Priorato, calling it a mass of monstrosities, 
inside and out. On the whole, however, 
he did very little work as a practical archi- 
tect. He accepted the patronage of the 


Rezzonico Pope Clement xiii., also a Vene- 
tian, who made him Cavaliere, and for 
whom he carried out a few restorations, 
and whose portrait he executed. 

Piranesi's etchings found ready buyers, 
but the largeness of the output rendered 
the pecuniary return to the artist extremely 
small. The supply being copious, it was 
necessary to stimulate demand by charging 
usually only the modest price of 2| paoli 
(about 2s.) for each etching, however large. 
Thus his very industry was a disadvantage 
to him, for the important reason that 
he had to earn a living. In the case of 
some artists it would seem that idleness 
possesses a certain pecuniary advantage. 

His first dated publication, dedicated to 
Bottari, dated 1748, and referred to on p. 17 
as bearing his address, contained 30 plates. 
The complete set was priced at the miser- 
able pittance of 16 paoli, or about 13s. ^d. 

It was with the utmost difficulty during 
the early part of his life that he was able 


to pay his way. A wife, curiously enough, 
proved almost his salvation, bringing as she 
did a small dowry. 

Piranesi's courtship is in consonance with 
his well-known character, and is all of a 
piece with everything else he did. The 
story is told that he was sitting in the 
Forum at work drawing : his eye fell by 
chance on a girl who happened to be 
passing ; she was with her brother. Pira- 
nesi, without leaving his seat, asked them 
who they were. The boy replied that they 
were the children of Prince Corsini's 
gardener. To Piranesi the girl's black eyes 
and her features were an instant proof that 
she was descended from the ancient Romans, 
and that she therefore fulfilled the ideal 
he had fixed in his mind of what his wife 
should be. Later the knowledge that 
she possessed a dowry of 1 50 piastres (about 
;^i2, 5s. od.) seems to have convinced him 
that his first impressions were correct. 
After hearing from the brother who they 


were, he rose to his feet and asked the girl 
if che were free to marry. She said she 
was, and the matter was at once settled 
so far as Piranesi's own intentions were 
concerned. After this one interview with 
the person whom he had thus hastily 
decided to make his wife, he bluntly asked 
her to marry him. Such impetuosity, while 
it scared both the girl and her parents, 
effectively prevented them from raising 
objections or creating obstacles. Piranesi 
was able to gain his point at once, and, as 
usual, devoid of patience, he wasted no 
further time, and the couple were married 
five days later. The courtship had been 
one of under a week. 

One is reminded of Cellini. 

Nor was it apparently at all unusual in 
Italy during the eighteenth century to 
arrange matrimonial and other matters in 
this impetuous fashion. It is narrated by 
M. Monnier of Carlo Goldoni, the 
Moliere of Italy, who was born a dozen 


years before Piranesi's birth, that he had 
decided to marry, but on recalling an old 
saying, came to the conclusion that the 
delightful woman whom he loved might 
possibly develop the ugliness of her elder 
sister, and imagining his own disgust in 
such an eventuality, gave her up. The 
story goes that a few days later seeing by 
chance a pretty young woman on a balcony, 
Goldoni bowed to her with great tender- 
ness, to which she made response with the 
utmost fervour and equal modesty. Not a 
moment was lost, a conversation ensued, the 
girl told Goldoni that she had no mother 
alive, but that her father might possibly be 
found at a cafe hard by. Off went Goldoni to 
the cafe, found the father, offered a theatre 
ticket or two and himself as a son-in-law, 
and settled matters without further ado. 

His wife's dowry enabled Piranesi to 
procure materials and to follow out his 
intention of illustrating the Antiquities of 
Rome, and notwithstanding the husband's 


irritable disposition and jealous tempera- 
ment the happiness of the union was 
such as to show that possibly the matter 
of the 150 piastres might not have been 
an incentive to the courtship and marriage. 
In the early days of their married life they 
occupied, in the Palazzo Tomati, near the 
Trinita de' Monti, the rooms which, in 
after years, were inhabited by Thorwaldsen, 
whence all his succeeding plates were 
issued ; the first dated plate from that 
address is of the year 1750. 

The Opere Varie^ published by Bouchard 
and dated from the Palazzo Tomati, near 
the Trinita de' Monti, 1750, bear Piranesi's 
adopted Arcadian title " Salcindio Tiseio," 
as well as his name and the words " Archi- 
tetto Veneziano," for he never permitted it 
to be forgotten that Venice was his native 
city. This volume shows the influence of 
Pannini's style : there are the broken altars, 
fractured columns, shattered pediments, and 
the slab bearing the incised name of the 


etcher, the whole composition thrown 
together just as Pannini would have painted 
the picture. Sometimes bound up in this 
volume is a series of imaginative designs 
for palaces, temples, and national buildings, 
perhaps intended as examples to be shown 
to possible clients, private or public. This 
volume also contains the Carceri^ to which 
reference is made later on. 

The Raccolta di Varie Vedute was published 
in the next year, 1751, by Bouchard, and 
comprised 93 plates. Of the 93 plates 47 
are the work of Piranesi, and they do not 
appear to have been included in any other 
volume of Piranesi's etchings ; a few of 
them, however, are to be found, reduced to 
quarto size, in a volume by Venuti, issued 
in 1766. The Raccolta di Varie Vedute is 
a somewhat scarce volume, and the British 
Museum copy, though otherwise perfect, 
does not possess a title-page. 

It was Piranesi's custom to shut himself 
up in his own room and to work straight 


Ilpmrw dt que^to Tempwenobzidnt^rU^ e/en^aJv dalsuob : veiiesiir,. nve^zo la.Ce/U rot»,nda, amie, b I 
purt, tuta> tljr-(Ut Vcuro <Ul limpw ^(ej-^o : qu,U^ IvjjUpcni^a^ ad essa,, e per a/tretia^ ^caU iHji 

ts^mdaiifi *vs(mi.,e temwut, uvuna^rande- aperttircL. dalU i^Jipende^ iHunie^ allaXilla. che kj-tZLSotto. 



on, without intermission, if an idea had 
struck him, or if he had a subject in hand : 
he had no patience. Engrossed in his 
labours, he could not endure to lay down 
his tools to take food or rest. He worked 
on, regardless of time and forgetful of his 
own or his children's bodily wants. There 
is also a domestic picture which shows him 
as a tyrannical father exercising the rights 
of the Roman paterfamilias with the utmost 
rigour. But these traits were not the only 
reason for the fact that Piranesi's children 
occasionally went hungry : his means in 
the early years of their childhood were very 
slender. The entire earnings of his whole 
life were not large. Temanza possessed, 
and quoted, a letter from Piranesi to his 
sister dated eight months prior to the 
etcher's death. After years of struggle, 
years crowded with work, he wrote in 
1778 that he had received during the forty 
years since his arrival in Rome 50 or 60 
thousand scudi (or in English money 


an average of roughly ^250 to £2^0 a 
year), and that he had been able out of 
these earnings to live and to maintain his 
wife and children, pay for materials to 
equip his studio and to get together his 
collection of vases, urns, and so on. If 
;(^25o or £2^0 was the average annual 
income of the forty years which included 
those years during which he was reaping 
the benefit of the reputation he had won, 
the earnings in the early years must have 
been meagre indeed. The collection of 
vases, urns, and bas-reliefs was really a part 
of his working tools, indispensable models, 
the actual cost of which must have been 
considerable ; so, after taking the cost into 
account and calculating the outlay for 
materials it will be found that the balance 
remaining with which Piranesi met personal 
and domestic disbursementsduring those forty 
years, can be gauged within narrow limits. 

The Papal authorities regarded his re- 
searches and etchings with admiration and 


approbation. Published with certain of his 
etchings there is a kind of testimonial, 
dated 1756, from D. Michael Angelo 
Monsagrati, Counsellor of the Index, who 
says that he has examined Piranesi's work 
and has found nothing therein contrary to 
religion and morality ; recognising the 
excellence of the explanations and descrip- 
tions, he judges it worthy to be proclaimed 
of public utility, and on the ground that 
there existed no work on Roman Antiquities 
of equal clearness and brevity. The word 
" brevity " does not appear to be in accord 
with facts. The Pope occasionally bought 
a set of the etchings for presentation to 
distinguished visitors to Rome ; and Piranesi 
narrates, in a letter to his sister, that he 
was accustomed to receive from the Papal 
Court for eighteen huge volumes of etchings 
200 scudi, or roughly £^0, The cost in 
time and material of taking the impressions 
from the plates must have amounted, at the 
very least, to half that sum. 


Piranesi worked for all sorts of employers, 
and for some in connection with subject- 
matter which had little to do with external 
architecture. Of these employers perhaps 
Robert Adam was the most important. It 
was Piranesi who executed for Adam certain 
plates for the book published by Robert 
Adam and his brother, dealing with archi- 
tecture, furniture, and the interior decora- 
tions of buildings. In this connection he is 
perhaps the most vital link in a chain of 
English furniture designers. 

Mr. John Swarbrick, in his Prize Essay, 
The Ltfe^ Work^ and Influence of Robert 
Adam and his Brothers^ says " concerning 
the plates No. IV, Vol. 2 of the Works " 
(1779), Robert Adam has written : — 

" Four of these plates are engraved by 
Piranesi, and are the largest he has ever 
attempted in regular Architecture. This 
obligation from so ingenious an Artist we 
owe to that friendship we contracted with 
him during our long residence at Rome, 


and which he has since taken every occasion 
to testify in the most handsome manner." 

From what has of late been learnt about 
Piranesi's connection with Robert Adam 
and the group of artists who surrounded 
him, it may now be said, with some show 
of truth, that the style of decoration, and 
more particularly in the case of furniture, 
associated with Adam's name may be better 
described as " Piranesi '' than "Adam/' 
Both, of course, were ardent admirers 
of the Classic, and both drew their 
ideas from that one common source ; but 
Piranesi's etchings, the outcome of his 
devotion to the Antique, were the vehicle 
by which, at that time, fresh phrases of 
design and detail were conveyed to Adam's 
mind, and it may be asserted with some 
degree of certainty that, but for the means 
provided by Piranesi's genius, Adam's repu- 
tation to-day would not be as high as it 
actually is. Every one knows the passage 
in Moliere's UAvare where Valere, the 


lover of the Miser's daughter, tells Maitre 
Jacques, the cook, that most people can 
produce a good dinner where money is of 
no account, whereas the cook who is truly 
great is he who can produce a good dinner 
with but slender means with which to go 
to market. Adam had been furnished with 
almost unlimited means from which to pro- 
duce his effects, and he should be measured 
by the standard set up by Valere. So far 
as I can ascertain, Piranesi's connection 
with Robert Adam came about as follows. 
Adam spent three years (1754-57) in Italy 
and Dalmatia, during which time he exam- 
ined the remains of Roman architecture in 
Italy generally and visited Spalato. Having 
made the acquaintance of Winckelmann, 
Adam became intimate with Clerisseau, a 
great friend of Winckelmann, and, through 
him, with Chambers, who was a pupil of 
Clerisseau. Chambers, of whom more later, 
was the architect of Somerset House, and in 
a minor degree a designer of furniture. He 


had travelled to England with Clerisseau in 
1755. After Adam's return home from the 
visit which he and Clerisseau paid together 
to Spalato in 1757, they produced the work 
styled the Ruins of the Palace of Diocletian 
at Spalato^ the figures in that work being 
drawn by Antonio Zucchi ; Bartolozzi also 
helped, by engraving several of the plates. 

Now Antonio Zucchi became eventually 
the husband of Angelica KaufFmann, and 
she had then lately etched a portrait of 
Winckelmann, who was reaching the highest 
pinnacle of fame in the estimation of every 
one, from Goethe downwards, for his know- 
ledge on all matters pertaining to Art. 

Adam made the acquaintance of these 
and other artists and engravers while abroad, 
bringing some of them to England and 
associating himself with them in his own 
work. These folks formed the nucleus of 
the circle from which radiated that type 
of decoration associated with the names of 
Adam, Sheraton, Pergolesi, Pastorini, Barto- 


lozzi, Cipriani, and Ceracchi, and which 
gradually pervaded English furniture and 
engravings as well as bricks, mortar, stone, 
marble, stucco, and metal. Most of these 
names have an everyday familiarity about 
them. Ceracchi's, however, is not well 
known ; he did the relief-work for the 
interior of Adam's houses. His was a weird 
character. He ended his life under the 
guillotine in Paris, dressed as a Roman 
Emperor, having been convicted of com- 
plicity in a plot to murder Bonaparte. 
Antonio Zucchi, who became in 1781 the 
husband of Angelica KaufFmann, after the 
death of the fraudulent footman Brandt 
who had been her first husband, designed 
the frontispiece of the brothers Adam's 
book, and Bartolozzi engraved it. Angelica 
Kauffmann " of graceful fancy " executed 
various kinds of decorative painting on 
furniture, walls, and ceilings for the Adam 
brothers ; her name is well known in that 
particular connection. Zucchi was not 


an artist of great merit, but he handled 
architectural subjects well, and was one of 
the party who went with Adam to Dalmatia. 
In Lord Derby's collection at Knowsley 
there are two large pictures painted by him 
for the 1 2th Earl to commemorate the 
marriage of Lord Stanley with Lady Betty 
Hamilton, and they are in Piranesi's style. 
He was elected an Associate of the Royal 
Academy in 1770. With these artists 
Piranesi was in continual and close touch, 
and into this circle of talent drawn together 
while in Italy by Robert Adam, for the 
purpose of illustrating his Works in Archi- 
tecture^ Adam brought his friend Piranesi. 
Adam's Works appeared in 1778 ; Pira- 
nesi since 1762, at least, had been on 
terms of intimate friendship with Robert 
Adam, and it is not all improbable that 
Adam had interested himself in the election 
in 1757 of Piranesi to the Society of Anti- 
quaries in London. 

It will be noticed that at even so late a 


date as 1757 it was to artists of foreign birth 
that Adam had to turn for the assistance 
he required. Most of these artists were 
Roman Catholics and had been trained upon 
work designed for the adornment of build- 
ings connected with their faith. British 
Art had suffered severely through the 
dispersal of the monasteries and from the 
attacks on the Roman Catholic religion in 
England. From the date of the dissolution 
of the religious houses until nearly the third 
quarter of the eighteenth century Nature was 
either niggard in bestowing or was hindered 
in developing the talent of British-born 
painters and sculptors. Either or both of 
these views may be correct, but in any case 
the strife raging round religion in England 
during the period indicated effectually 
prevented native-born talent from perfecting 
itself in the arts which have always found 
kindly patronage among members of a 
Church whose leaders have systematically 
addressed themselves to the encouragement 


of music, painting, and sculpture, owing, 
probably, to the fact that the papacy re- 
garded Science as incompatible with its 
pretensions and hostile to its dogmas. 

Whether from natural causes or owing to 
political or other reasons, for several genera- 
tions British genius flowed into the channels 
of Science rather than into those of Art. 
Macaulay has pointed out how native 
talent, diverted from painting and sculpture, 
stimulated by the example of Bacon, re- 
appeared in the illustrious men whose names 
are associated with the foundation and early 
years of the Royal Society. By the begin- 
ning of the eighteenth century researches 
into the realms of Nature, led by Newton, 
Halley, Petty, Boyle, Sloane, Wallis, and 
others, had placed England in a position in 
regard to scientific matters second to none 
among the nations of the world. But what 
of native artists ? From the time of the 
Augsburg Holbein no British name of note 
can be recalled to adorn the roll of painters 


and sculptors till Hogarth redeemed British 
painting from the reproach that it was 
under foreign domination, and till Banks, 
NoUekens, and Flaxman proved that English- 
men knew the way in which to handle a 
chisel. If Wren be put forward and 
claimed as an artist it must of course be 
admitted that he was a Titan, but Archi- 
tecture is not so much an Art as a Science 
and it should not be classed with painting 
and sculpture ; for however entrancing may 
be the beauties of architectural design or 
however impressive the spectacle of archi- 
tectural mass, the efforts of the architect are 
both useless and meaningless unless they 
have been rendered feasible by the assistance 
of the engineer and useful by the calcula- 
tions of the mathematician. Wren must 
therefore be placed for the moment out- 
side the argument, for he was both engineer 
and mathematician as well as artist. Let 
us see who then were the artists and 
sculptors whose names stand out during 


those years in which the men connected with 
the Royal Society were rendering London 
the pivot of the scientific world. From 
Holbein's day till 1760, the year in which 
the Society of Arts held its first Exhibition, 
few British names can be discovered. There 
is Cooper, but Cornelius Jonson was really 
Janssen Van Ceulen. Then Dutch Van- 
dyck ; Lely too was a Dutchman (from 
Soest near Utrecht, though some authorities 
persist in describing him as a Westphalian) ; 
Kneller was a German. Then there were 
the two Dutch Vanderveldes. The vulgar 
Verrio (see p. 106) who painted frescoes 
framed into spurious architectural com- 
positions was from Lecce, near Otranto, 
where Baroc architecture may be seen at 
its best. His friend Laguerre, with his 
" sprawling saints " as Pope called them, was 
from Paris, and had Louis xiv. as his god- 
father. How seldom it is recollected that 
Grinling Gibbons the carver and sculptor 
was not a native of Deptford but was born 


in Holland, and that Cibber who executed 
the Phoenix over the south door of St. 
Paul's Cathedral and the large bas-relief 
on the pedestal of Wren's Monument of 
London, and who was the father of 
Colley Cibber, was born in Holstein, and 
that during the days when the illustrious 
Newton was at the Mint it was necessary 
to employ French skill in order to produce 
suitable designs for the coins of this realm. 
And it was not that the successes of painters 
and sculptors were badly recompensed in 
England, or that those who professed these 
arts were regarded as being placed low in 
the social scale. The contrary was the 
case : great social consideration was a 
portion of their reward, their attainments 
were honoured and their skill respected ; the 
pay of the painter was of so lavish a kind 
that foreign artists, many of whom were 
failures in the country of their birth, lost 
no time in invading this country, attracted 
by the scale by which labours such as theirs 


were rewarded. The fact is there was no 
nursery in Britain for native talent, and Adam 
had no British material to which to turn. 

Four of the most attractive and charac- 
teristic plates in Adam's book were engraved 
by Piranesi. They illustrate Sion House, 
and are referred to by Adam as being 
the largest Piranesi had ever attempted in 
regular architecture. With this book the 
public nowadays is familiar, and none of 
the plates will be found, on comparison, to 
excel those of Piranesi in the expression of 
the special aesthetic characteristic of which 
the epithet " Adam " is usually predicated. 
Adam's work, published in conjunction 
with his staff who produced the illustra- 
tions, rendered invaluable services to the 
masters of the styles of English furniture, 
after the middle of the eighteenth century, to 
the cabinet-maker andarchitectof that period. 

Piranesi's etchings of the Classic and of the 
Renaissance, thrust forward by an aggressive 
personality, spread broadcast the elements 


which illustrated the doctrines other men 
were preaching. Thus the less aesthetic 
minds were helped into taking part in a 
movement towards appreciation of the 
Classic form which has become absorbed 
into everything put forward by the masters 
who teach us how to adorn our daily 
existence. His etchings first opened the 
eyes of many to the beauty of fine archi- 
tecture and did work which learned essays 
failed to accomplish. 

Piranesi's unexpected influence peeps 
out from all sorts of famous work. In 
Mr. Hind's History of Engraving and 
Etching it is stated (pp. 240-42) that in 
the hands of John Crome (old Crome) 
etching was " sounder in principle than 
almost anything that had been produced 
in Europe for almost a century." John 
Crome and his fellow-townsman, John Sell 
Cotman, the other great artist of the 
Norwich School, were simultaneously at 
work at Norwich on soft and hard ground 



alcro Candclairv aniico 



etching, and Cotman produced his etchings 
of architectural antiquities under the in- 
fluence of "his professed model Piranesi/' 
This fact of Piranesi being used by the 
Norwich School shows how versatile were 
the Norwich men in their power to 
produce the almost poetical softness of their 
landscapes alongside of formal draughts- 
manship modelled on Piranesi. 

Architecture and architectural ornament 
finely drawn by this one man enabled 
innumerable other men to design fine 
architecture and fine furniture. To those 
other men Piranesi's work was a fitting 
text-book, rich in formulae, easy both of 
access and comprehension. His ideas, 
interpretations, and details, again, were as 
useful to the architect and draughtsman as 
are the services of the refiner to the worker 
in metal. The rough ingot, by Piranesi's 
help and influence and by his fortunate 
association with Adam and Adam's circle, 
became, in the hands of the craftsman or 


architect, the beautiful work of art as we 
know it, and an idiom of design. More- 
over, in Piranesi's day the architect was to 
this extent so important a personage that 
his labours did not end when he had 
finished building the house and decorating 
it. To guide the architect was to direct, 
or at least to lend colour to, a great deal 
of domestic life ; the house, the garden, the 
cradle, the desk, the church, the wedding 
dress, the couch, the tombstone, were all 
included in the work for which the 
architect's imagination was responsible. In 
times which were ripe for a revised appre- 
ciation of the Classic the influence of 
Piranesi may have been unsuspected, but 
designs bearing the unmistakable impress 
of his mind and hand passed one by one 
into circulation as the current coin of every- 
day use in decoration. 

The antiquarian enthusiasm and investi- 
gation of Piranesi and the opportunity 
afforded him of giving the result of them 


<Jfn ^na/iilCcrra. pnep'X) il Sianor£Ua/tori Gaualiere i^ncrieJ^ 



to the English world through the channel 
of Adam's work, assisted Adam and his 
friends to create and develop the style which 
became popular, not only in architecture 
but in furniture. 

Much furniture now and always described 
as being of the style of the well-known 
designers of the eighteenth and early nine- 
teenth century derives its special feeling 
and characteristic ornamentation from 
Piranesi's influence, and there are many 
examples of splendid English furniture, 
made of mahogany, which are called 
" Chippendale," " Lock," " Chambers," 
" Adam," or by some other contempo- 
raneous name, constructed of material and 
with workmanship of the most honest 
and expensive kind, which might well be 
described as " Piranesi " furniture. Such are 
the pieces which have hitherto successfully 
baffled the collector who has attempted 
to assign to them a definite period, origin, 
or style. In design they usually resemble 


Adam too closely to be called " Chippen- 
dale," and are too much like " Chippendale'' 
to be called " Adam " ; as a rule they 
are evidently not so old as to be what 
is known as an original "Adam'' or 
"Chippendale" piece "of the period"; 
nor do they look as if they had been 
made from characteristic Chippendale or 
Adam designs even though at a date later 
than that with which those two designers 
are identified. That is an important point. 
In the Soane Museum, among the many 
original drawings by Robert Adam, are 
the designs of some chairs and sofas made 
by him for Sir Laurence Dundas which are 
quite unlike in feeling and decorative detail 
anything usually called " Adam " furniture. 
They exhibit every characteristic one would 
expect Piranesi to have inspired, and are im- 
pregnated with the perfume he had distilled 
from the Antique. Now the designs for 
these chairs and sofas were made by Adam 
just before 1764, at a time when Adam 


and Piranesi were in close touch with 
each other. To my mind the extent to 
which Adam was influenced and even 
dominated by Piranesi is at once patent 
in these designs for Sir Laurence Dundas. 
Since 1764 many celebrated cabinet-makers 
have produced fine furniture, the style and 
period of which have baffled the collector. 
There is no great difficulty about the 
explanation. These cabinet-makers have 
merely adopted Adam's method : they 
have fixed upon the form or shape required 
and then, going a step further, have taken 
Piranesi's etchings and blended his idioms 
into their designs ; consequently, when 
judgment finds difficulty in placing a name 
upon an uncommonly well-made piece of 
furniture, fine in design and treatment, the 
words " inspired by Piranesi " are often the 
solution, where the description " Adam " 
or " Chippendale '' would be incorrect. 

This kind of furniture is somewhat more 
sober than Chippendale. In Chippendale 


designs the carving had gradually become 
very exuberant, and, whether in the Gothic, 
Chinese, Classic or Rococo, it was inclined 
to show a lack of restraint and to convey 
the impression of noisiness. Furniture 
with the Piranesi feeling avoids that fault ; 
it is likewise free from the coldness and 
bloodlessness that often render Adam 
insipid. In particular the carvings are 
more interesting and the mouldings softer 
to the eye and hand, indeed especially so to 
the touch. 

The publication of Piranesi's Roman 
etchings and the admiration they inspired 
tempered the tendency prevailing in 
Chippendale's day, not only in archi- 
tectural composition in Europe generally, 
but especially among the English furniture 
makers, to slip away towards the Rococo. 
The designer of enrichment, after seeing 
Piranesi's etchings, felt irresistibly com- 
pelled by the veneration for the Antique 
imparted by Piranesi, simplex munditns^ to 


moderate his excesses in " Periwig and 
Pigtail." ^ The period which saw the 
decline and fall of the Rococo in art, 
literature, and morals owed a greater debt 
to Piranesi's influence upon architecture 
and the kindred arts than it was ever aware 
of. Indeed, it may be advanced with some 
certainty that the lines along which the 
composition and designs of Piranesi 
furniture move show plainly enough that 
as much toll was taken from Piranesi's 
etchings of the Antique as from the 
Antique itself. 

The points to be noticed in what may be 
called a piece of " Piranesi " furniture are as 
follows. There is a noble simplicity of 
outline, which is at the same time treated 

^ The Church of St. Paul and St. Louis at Paris is a 
fair example of Rococo. In Rococo it was considered 
necessary to keep as closely as possible to the columnar 
orders, but gradually an opposite tendency had crept in 
and meaningless forms were used. Although the Antique 
was resorted to, it was not in such a way as to accord 
with the original intention, and the resulting effect was 
called " Periwig and Pigtail." 


in such a way as to be entirely English in 
character. All the carved mouldings are 
those usually found on Classic stone-work; 
somewhere in the piece there is a suggestion 
of Renaissance feeling, or inspiration, lending 
lightness, colour, and saliency to the whole, 
either in a pediment, frieze, panel edge, 
plinth, foot, or in any spot where a piece 
made from Chippendale's designs would 
be found heavy, dull, and uninteresting. 
Whenever it is thus present, the touch of 
Renaissance is the certain indication of 
Piranesi influence. 

Apparently there were not many makers 
of these " Piranesi " pieces, for nearly all of 
them have similar marked peculiarities and 
are alike in details. The Piranesi influence 
is unmistakable, pet cadences in form and 
treatment sign each piece all over. The 
mahogany employed is uncommonly beauti- 
ful in colour and markings ; its colour, not 
so black as that of the wood used by makers 
of Chippendale designs, is perhaps best de- 




and built a reputation on it. Yet, if the 
student will take Adam's book, published 
in 1778, and compare it, for example, with 
Piranesi's volume of designs published in 
1769, and if, further, he will examine the 
drawings of the Dundas chairs and sofas 
made by Adam in 1764 and now in the 
Soane Museum, he will be able to judge for 
himself who was the master and who the 
disciple, and he will wonder why Piranesi's 
name is not now used where that of Adam 
is usually mentioned. 

Mr. Percy Macquoid, in his History of 
English Furniture^ " The Age of Satin wood," 
p. 47, says : " In comparing the de- 
signs of Piranesi and Adam it is at once 
apparent how the former originated and the 
latter improved and adapted this Italian 
style to English requirements. There are 
pages of Piranesi's drawings that Adam 
reproduced fearlessly as his own, enlarging 
and simplifying the details of the originals." 
This last sentence goes perhaps a little too far. 


As early even as 1762 the terms of friend- 
ship existing between the two men must 
have been of a cordial character, for they 
were of a kind sufficient to warrant so signal 
a token of regard as a dedication by Piranesi 
to one whom he describes in the most 
prominent position in the plates as " the 
celebrated British architect, Robert Adam." 
Adam's name is set out in bold lettering, 
not once but several times, in the one set of 
plates forming the Campus Martins Anttquce 
Urbis, Moreover, in one of these plates, 
and in a position of honour, is the repre- 
sentation of a medal bearing the names and 
profiles of Piranesi and Adam side by side. 

The Campus Martius series was etched 
to please himself, and was largely the out- 
come of Piranesi's fertile imagination. He 
studied the Classics, and following the indi- 
cations of writers of the period, wrote an 
essay on the history of the Campus Martius, 
described its buildings, drew a plan of the 
site, and covered a map with exact details 


of imagined monuments, tombs, baths, 
temples, and porches, without having found 
a single trace that anything of the kind had 
ever existed. 

On the Campus Martins title-page 
Piranesi describes himself, and is evidently- 
very proud of the distinction, as a Fellow of 
the Royal \sic\ Society of Antiquaries of 
London, of which Society he was elected an 
Honorary Fellow on the 7th of April 1757. 
Mr. W. H. St. John Hope, the late Assistant 
Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries, has 
been kind enough to furnish me with 
the following extract from Minute Book 
Vin. 8 :— 

" Thursday^ 2.\th February 1757. 

" Testimonials were severally presented 
recommending . . . and also II Signor 
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, a Venetian, 
resident at Rome, a most ingenious Archi- 
tect, and Author of the Antiquities in Rome and 
the Neighbourhood^ v Vols folio, and desirous 
of being admitted an Honorary Member of 


this Society. Signed severally by R. Ossory, 
T. Theobald, P. Collinson, A. Cooper, 
A. Pond, H. Barker, C. Rogers, W. Norris/' 

Notwithstanding its many faults, the 
volume of Diverse Maniere referred to above, 
so useful to furniture makers and furniture 
painters, is the long neglected parent of a 
delightful progeny, which has been fathered 
upon Adam, if not even adopted by him, as 
his own offspring, earning praise for the 
illegitimate relative to which the latter is not 
wholly entitled. This volume too has also 
been of value in influencing furniture design, 
but in another direction, and examination of 
its plates will help to confirm an observation 
of Mr. R. S. Clouston, who has made most 
valuable investigations into the history of 
English furniture. In writing of Adam he 
says that in Chippendale's third edition of 
The Director the ram's head decoration 
occurs, that this form of decoration is a 
great favourite of Adam's and that it was 


Chippendale's habit to absorb the ideas of 
others into his designs, after having " ele- 
vated and refined '' them. Now Adam re- 
turned from Italy about the year 1757, and it 
was from Adam, who worked in conjunction 
with Chippendale, that the fundamental idea 
of the ram's head was acquired by Chippen- 
dale for the third edition of Chippendale's 
Director^ which appeared in 1762. Adam 
had drawn his ram's head designs under the 
influence of Piranesi. Further, it must 
always be borne in mind that both Robert 
Adam and his brother James were employed 
to design furniture which Chippendale made, 
and which passes by the name of the latter ; 
many pieces of furniture now called Chippen- 
dale owe their design undoubtedly to the 
drawing-board of one or other of the 
brothers Adam. Later on they applied 
themselves to designing on their own account 
the furniture which is now known by their 
name. This fact is usually overlooked, nor 
is it generally known that the renowned 




furniture belonging to Lord Harewood and 
to Lord St. Oswald respectively, was made 
by Chippendale, not from his own designs, 
but from designs supplied by the brothers 
Adam. As to Nostell Priory, Lord St. 
Oswald actually arranged in 1767 for Adam 
and Chippendale to collaborate for the 
purpose of furnishing and decorating that 

As more light is thrown by research on 
the origin of the designs of English furniture, 
it becomes increasingly certain that, on 
the question even of furniture-design the 
inevitable attack, which sooner or later 
assails every form of extended dominion in 
mundane affairs, is not now far off. When 
the onslaught is made it will be found 
necessary, in order to defend the citadel of 
Chippendale and Adam, to surrender many 
of their claims and to withdraw within such 
accurately marked frontiers as can be effec- 
tually maintained. Much of the outlying 
ground now occupied by Chippendale and 


Adam isPiranesi'sproperty — howhe acquired 
some of it, and how he was evicted without 
protest, will baffle the most subtle analyst. 
The materials from which his title-deeds are 
drawn resemble the Corinthium y^s which 
was composed at the burning of Corinth, 
of an amalgamation of all the other metals. 
The elements of Piranesi's materials are to 
be found, however, scattered over most of 
his etchings. 

Piranesi's first publication of etchings, 
though undated, appeared in 1741, thirteen 
years before Adam's arrival in Italy. 
Bouchard of Rome had published, in 1750, 
the Opere Varie and Carceri^ followed in the 
next year by the series of Piranesi's works 
in a great folio entitled Le Magnificence 
di Roma le pih remarcabili. The four 
volumes of Antichita Ro?nane appeared in 
1756, and it is here necessary to correct a 
statement made by some authorities that these 
four volumes embodied all the etchings of 
the kind that had thus far been produced by 


Piranesi's needle, and that they included the 
dated series of 1748 dedicated to Bottari. 
A careful search has been made and no 
justification can be found for this statement. 
None of the 47 views which Piranesi etched 
for the collection of 93 plates published 
in 1 75 1 by Bouchard and called the 
Raccolta di Varie Vedute appear in the Anti- 
chlth^ nor do any of the Bottari series, al- 
though in the latter case it would be not 
improbable that a copy could be found with 
the Antichith and Bottari series bound to- 
gether as though they really belonged to 
one series of etchings. 

Remembering that the brothers Adam 
designed for Chippendale, and proceeding 
along Mr. Clouston's line of thought, it 
becomes evident that Chippendale too has 
to thank Piranesi for a little of his fame, 
and a day may come yet when we perhaps 
shall be expected to speak of a piece of 
" Piranesi " where we now speak of a piece 
of " Chippendale '' furniture. 



The circumstances of the publication of 
the Antichita Romane are interesting in view 
of the light they throw on Piranesi's char- 
acter. The four volumes Antichita Romane 
vary considerably as to title-page in different 
copies. The original intention of the etcher 
was to dedicate the work to James Caulfield, 
ist Earl of Charlemont, who was staying 
in Rome in 175 1 on his way home from 
Greece and Egypt. 

Charlemont was the Irish statesman and 
friend of Grattan, and it was under his 
auspices and as Member for Charlemont that 
Grattan entered Parliament. He had been 
the benefactor of several young artists in 
Rome, among whom was Parker and possibly 
Chambers. Lord Charlemont had interested 
himself in the Fine Arts and was a friend 
of Reynolds and Johnson. He founded a 
school for English artists at Rome, which 
was ultimately closed after a brief career, 
owing to the misconduct of some of its 
students. As a member of the Dilettanti 


Society he had been Chairman of a Com- 
mittee which that Society had appointed 
to superintend researches into the Classical 
Antiquities of Asia Minor. 

The Dilettanti Society had been founded in 
1733 by " some gentlemen who had travelled 
in Italy and who were desirous of encour- 
aging at home a taste for those objects which 
had contributed so much to their entertain- 
ment abroad." Pope's friend, Joseph Spence, 
a Fellow of New College and the author of 
Polymetis^ was one of the few commoners 
who were its earliest members. The Society 
published a series of splendid works on archae- 
ological subjects. James Stuart (" Athen- 
ian " Stuart) and Nicholas Revett produced 
for the Society The Antiquities of Athens Meas- 
ured and Delineated^ the work which led to 
the idea of St. James's Square, London, being 
built according to Greek architecture, and 
one of their friends and supporters, Robert 
Wood, a traveller and an Under Secretary of 
State, published An Essay on the Original 


Genius and Writings of Homer with a Com- 
parative View of the Ancient and Present 
State of the Troade, The works of these 
three men caused Goethe to say that " with 
the exception of England, not one of the 
European nations of the present day possessed 
the enthusiasm for the remains of classical 
antiquity which spares neither cost nor pains 
in the endeavour to restore them to their 
perfect splendour." 

This leaning towards all things Classic 
which pushed aside English architecture in 
the middle of the reign of King George iii. 
was perhaps originated by Stuart and Revett, 
and the house in St. James's Square, London, 
built by Stuart, was possibly the first actual 
result of the efforts to promote a Classic 

Parker was the Director of Lord Charle- 
mont's Academy of English Professors of 
the Liberal Arts at Rome, as it was called, 
and he acted as agent to Lord Charlemont. 
His career at the Academy was unfortunate ; 


his conduct there created such dissensions 
that he was ultimately one of the causes of 
the Academy being suppressed. 

Piranesi and Parker quarrelled. Piranesi 
resented the treatment he was receiving 
at the hands of Parker, acting as Lord 
Charlemont's representative, and although 
during a period of years the etcher had 
been shaping his plans with the object of 
dedicating his work to Lord Charlemont, 
the result of his quarrel with Parker was, 
that Piranesi altered the title-page, strik- 
ing out Lord Charlemont's name, and 
where other plates bore Lord Charlemont's 
name Adam's name was substituted. He 
issued in 1757, but only to his own friends, 
Lettere di Giustijic axiom scritte a milord 
Charlemont^ with eight engravings, explain- 
ing the reason for his change of plan. 
Etched in quarto were the exact copies of 
the four original frontispieces which were to 
have immortalised Lord Charlemont as Pira- 
nesi's patron, with views of the inscriptions 


re-etched as they now stand. The effect of 
this manipulation is to make it appear as if 
the first inscriptions had been cut out of the 
stones depicted, and new ones inserted on 
small pieces. There are also head and tail 
pieces alluding to the matters and persons 
involved in the dispute. These Letters 
were afterwards suppressed, as they gave 
offence to persons other than those against 
whom they were directed. 

The story as told by Piranesi in these 
Letters is, that wishing to dedicate to Lord 
Charlemont a collection of etchings on the 
sepulchral monuments of Rome, he left with 
Parker, for Lord Charlemont's inspection, 
certain of the plates. Parker returned them 
to him, some months after Lord Charlemont's 
departure from Rome, with a Latin inscrip- 
tion in honour of Lord Charlemont, to be 
engraved on the title-page. Piranesi worked 
at his plates till 1755, and in that year wrote 
to Lord Charlemont to tell him that the 
results of his labours would fill four volumes 


instead of one volume as had been originally 
intended, whereupon Lord Charlemont sent 
the etcher, through Parker, a corrected 
dedication more applicable to the enlarged 
scope of the work. When the work ap- 
peared some time later, Parker, in his capacity 
of agent for Lord Charlemont, offered to 
purchase etchings to the value of loo scudi 
(^20) and to give the etcher 100 scudi more 
as a present. These sums Piranesi refused as 
being an inadequate return for the four title- 
pages he had specially etched. In the dis- 
cussion it appears that it was Piranesi's habit 
to have a number of impressions taken from 
each plate, and that the fair remuneration 
for the work of etching each title-page was 
300 scudi (>C6o), further that he usually 
received 1000 scudi (^200) for a total of 
4000 impressions of various plates sold at 2^ 
paoli each ; from which it may be gathered 
that the printer and publisher received i^ 
paoli (is.) to cover cost of printing, paper, 
expenses of sale and profit for each im- 


pression, leaving is. for Piranesi for each 
impression sold. 

Parker maintained that Piranesi had only- 
received Lord Charlemont's permission for a 
dedication of one volume and that he had 
not authorised the dedication of four volumes. 
Piranesi retorted that Lord Charlemont, 
through Parker, had given consent by 
changing the inscription from " monumenta 
sepulchralia " for the one volume into 
"monumenta insignioria antiqua " for the 
four volumes. A friend of Parker, called 
by Piranesi " Sig. A. G.," desirous of arriving 
at a compromise, went to see Piranesi. He 
rendered the position very entertaining to 
the etcher by showing him a letter, pur- 
porting to come from Lord Charlemont, 
with a proposal that 50 zecchini should 
be paid for the Anttchtth, If that sum 
did not satisfy Piranesi, Sig. A. G. mildly 
notified the etcher that Lord Charlemont 
would close an unpleasing squabble by 
having Piranesi assassinated. Piranesi 




generously declined to believe Lord 
Charlemont was privy to the offer or 
threat, and himself closed the discussion 
by erasing the inscriptions from the four 
title-pages. He was deeply wounded by 
the disappointment he had experienced at 
the hands of Lord Charlemont, but he 
would not accept monetary offers made 
by another patron for the honour of 
having his name placed on the title-page, 
and Piranesi thenceforward regarded the 
public and posterity as the patrons of his 
labours. The frontispiece of the first 
volume of the Antichita is a splendid 
example of architectural composition : in 
the foreground, among a mass of shattered 
trophies, is a slab bearing the words, 
" Urbis iEternae Vestigia Ruderibus Tem- 
porumque Injuriis Vindicata iEneis Tabulis 
Incisa J. B. Piranesius Venetus Roma 
Degeus iEvo Suo Posteris Et Utilitate 
Publica. C.V.D." And just as in earlier 
times it was for certain reasons customary 


to efface from a monument the name of 
an Emperor by knocking away the bronze 
letters of the inscription bearing his name, 
leaving the useless nails still projecting, 
so Piranesi has made it abundantly clear 
that he has in a similar manner mutilated 
the original dedicatory inscription, and 
has etched the plate to appear as if a 
fresh block of stone had been let in to 
carry the altered inscription. Lying among 
the shields that form a trophy is one of 
unusual shape, on which an almost ex- 
punged coat of arms can be traced. The 
crest is Charlemont's. 

On the whole, if the reasons set forth 
by Piranesi in these letters were the 
actual cause of the rupture, his complaint 
is deserving of sympathy. Piranesi was 
a very poor man, and it is difficult to 
suppose that Lord Charlemont himself 
would have acted towards Piranesi in the 
manner adopted by his agent, Parker. At 
the outset Lord Charlemont may have 


wished to assist Piranesi, and his enthusiasm 
may have cooled ; it may be assumed that 
he would not have dreamed, however, of 
wounding the etcher's self-respect. But 
Parker, acting for him in his absence, 
played true to the reputation he had ac- 
quired as Director of the Academy of 
English Professors. He so infuriated 
Piranesi by the treatment received at his 
hands, that Piranesi in his letters not only 
reproached Lord Charlemont most bitterly, 
but in one or two passages permitted 
himself to adopt a tone scarcely short of 

Possibly Lord Charlemont had originally, 
on the impulse of a moment, made promises 
to Piranesi which he later, on cooling 
down, decided to interpret in a manner 
rather less liberal than that which he had 
led Piranesi to expect. Parker could 
scarcely have acted entirely without the 
instructions of his employer. Parker had 
probably been desired to waive aside 


Piranesi's requests gently and diplomati- 
cally, and so gradually bring home to 
Piranesi that no great hopes for real 
assistance should be based on Lord 
Charlemont's promised patronage. Money 
was the crux. Parker used a bludgeon, and, 
with a man of Piranesi's fiery character, 
the result was a violent explosion. 

Charlemont, as may be gathered from 
the epitaph composed by himself and 
found among his papers, liked to pose 
as a benefactor. His habit of courting 
popularity extended beyond his acts as 
a politician and statesman. Traveller 
and antiquarian, he affected Art and 
Literature, and now, till the question of 
expense arose, would like to be patron 
of the etcher. His relations with Piranesi 
add no lustre to his character ; it looks as 
if he desired to receive the distinction of 
a dedication at the hands of an artist 
whom he had promised to encourage, but 
on discovering that the honour involved 


duties and expense he either broke a 
promise or shuffled unworthily. 

What one of his friends thought of 
Lord Charlemont may be judged by the 
following : — Boswell, in 1778, in expressing 
the opinion that travel improves conversa- 
tion, puts forward Lord Charlemont as an 
instance in point. Whereupon Johnson 
makes short work of Lord Charlemont : — 
" I never but once heard him talk of what 
he had seen, and that was of a large serpent 
on one of the Pyramids of Egypt." 

But Johnson's estimate of Lord Charle- 
mont may have been not altogether un- 
biased. Charlemont had once tried to 
tease Johnson by asking him in the presence 
of Burke and Reynolds whether a news- 
paper report, that he was taking dancing 
lessons from Vestris, was true. Johnson 
not only resented joking comments on his 
personal appearance or reflections on his 
dignity, but was exceedingly sensitive on 
the subject of looks generally ; he disliked 


the historian Gibbon, who was a vain man 
notwithstanding a ridiculous nose and a 
button mouth, because he was " such an 
amazingly ugly person." 

Hardy says that Lord Charlemont and 
Piranesi eventually became reconciled. 

During the time that Piranesi was at 
work on the Antichita Romane^ Chambers, 
it may be remembered, was also at Rome 
lodging with Clerisseau, under whom he 
studied at Paris, and with whom he had 
come to England in 1755. 

Clerisseau, the friend of Robert Adam, 
worked also with Zucchi, who was em- 
ployed on the illustrations of Adam's book. 

Now Chambers who studied under 
Clerisseau was eventually Sir William 
Chambers, R.A., who besides being the 
architect of Somerset House, and the 
architect employed by Lord Charlemont 
to build Charlemont House, Dublin, was 
a designer of furniture and of decoration 
generally. Piranesi and Chambers were 


personally well known to one another in 
Rome, moving as they did in the same 
circle from 1747 to 1755. Chambers him- 
self narrates that he knew Piranesi, and 
that he was present when a discussion 
took place between Piranesi and some 
pensioners of the French Academy, on the 
subject of Piranesi's skill as an architect. 
The impression made by Piranesi and his 
etchings on Chambers may be seen in all 
Chambers's work. 

Piranesi early in life moved in what 
were artistically and perhaps intellectually 
the most desirable circles of Rome. He 
was regarded as one of the sights of the 
city, and was brought into contact with 
many of the accomplished visitors who 
flocked to Rome from all parts. His work 
was probably known to every lover of the 
Fine Arts who came to Italy. 

The English and the Scotch were his 
principal admirers and patrons. Rome was 
particularly attractive to them in Piranesi's 


time ; the Pretender was living there, and 
was being continually visited by Scottish 
gentlemen who had gone out in the '45. 
Among the latter was Strange, the engraver, 
who had fled for his life and had lived to 
be knighted. It was Graeme, a general 
in the service of Venice, who enabled his 
fellow-countryman Robert Adam to obtain, 
from the Governor of Dalmatia, permission 
to work at Spalato, for the purpose of 
making the drawings of the Palace of 
Diocletian. Several of his own country- 
men recognised Piranesi's merits, and 
supported his claims for encouragement. 
Beyond that, they did not go. Certainly 
no opportunity was ever given to Piranesi, 
even by them, of putting into practice 
any of the ideas with which his brain was 
crowded. He was employed to help 
architects and designers, his etchings were 
always admired and welcomed, but he 
was never employed to design and super- 
intend the erection of a building by which 


he might possibly have been known for 
all time. Although he did not pose as a 
practical architect, in collaboration with a 
person properly versed in the science of 
building, his taste and originality would 
have enabled him to clothe correct con- 
struction with great beauty. 

The encouragement he received from 
English and Scottish friends may be seen 
in the various plates of the two volumes 
Vasi^ Gandelabri^ Cippi ; they teem with 
dedications to British names. It is not 
necessary to mention many, but it may 
be interesting to quote a few : — George 
Grenville, William Beckford, Aubrey Beau- 
clerk, Henry Hope, Penn Assheton Curzon, 
Conte di Lincoln (afterwards second Duke 
of Newcastle-under-Lyme), Lord Carmar- 
then, Lord Palmerston, Chas. Townley, 
T. M. Slade, Milord Conte D'Exeter a 
Burghley, Gavin Hamilton, and Thomas 
Jenkins. These two last-named are referred 
to later on. 


One unexpected name appears on some 
of the etchings, and how it comes there 
it is difficult to understand — that of Charles 
Morris. Morris was a " Steak/' the punch- 
maker and bard of the " Beefsteak " Society. 
Morris with classic urns is hard to realise, 
— he seems sadly out of place as a patron 
of refined Art. Macaulay says he was a 
buffoon, and mentions Morris and Wolcot 
(Peter Pindar) as having made Pitt the 
victim of " a merriment which was of no 
very delicate kind.'* 

Although Piranesi called himself a son 
of Rome, and boasted that the fascination of 
Rome had alone inspired him to work, 
he never forgot his native city, and the 
words " Architetto Veneziano " reappear on 
his title-pages from time to time. He 
complained of the inertness of the eighteenth- 
century Italians in appreciation of the 
Beautiful, and praising the English nation 
for the protection she grants to all the 
Arts, declared that, had it been in his power 


to choose his birthplace, he would have 
preferred London, 

Will he be justified eventually ? For 
although the British Empire is now more 
populous and richer than ever was the 
Roman Empire, will the etcher of archi- 
tecture from New Zealand, as he picks his 
steps through the prophesied tangle of dock- 
leaves and nettles seventeen centuries hence, 
find, among the ruins of our London, archi- 
tectural remains capable of inspiring and 
fascinating the Piranesi of 3450 a.d. as 
the remains of Rome fascinated the Piranesi 
of 1750 ? The nineteenth century has 
been a period of increasing wealth and of 
prosperity scarcely rufHed even by wars 
on distant frontiers, yet what has a century 
of such peace and richness contributed to 
national architecture in Great Britain ? To 
the English cathedrals built in the days 
of our Norman and Angevin kings, to the 
Tudor and Jacobean glories of the two 
Universities, to St. Paul's Cathedral and the 


English country houses of the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, we have merely 
added Barry's Palace of Westminster, with its 
sight-value undeveloped owing to its design 
being not only crippled but also dull and 
devoid of the candour proper to the Gothic ; 
a Cathedral hard by, the Law Courts, the 
Government Offices between Charing Cross 
and Westminster, and — the Albert Memorial. 
Liverpool will be able to add her Cathedral 
and her St. George's Hall, the latter being 
perhaps as fine an example of the Classic style 
of architecture produced in modern times as 
there is to be found anywhere in Europe. 
And this is notwithstanding our protesta- 
tions and affectations of what it has pleased 
some of us to talk of as our " culture and 
admiration of the Fine Arts." 

The fiery and impetuous character of 
Piranesi's temperament is seen by the way 
in which he set himself to commit to an 
etched plate every item of archaeological 
interest that met his eye. With the 


imagination of genius, he grasped the 
intentions of the original designer of an 
ancient or mediasval ruin, supplied what 
had been lost, and reproduced the finished 
whole. Still, crude genius was not the 
quality which enabled Piranesi to achieve 
what he did. The success of his needle 
was not the result of any flash of genius 
such as at times makes the painter or the 
sculptor. Piranesi's position was reached 
by honest, persistent, laborious toil, and a 
love of his work. He tasted the serene 
beauties of Art and architecture, and he 
was conscious of the slightest shading in 
their flavour. Noble form inspired him 
as does melody the musician, and with his 
needle he played the theme and its 
variations. To him architecture was just 
what Goethe called it, petrified music, 
" Baukunst, eine erstarrte Musik." 

Piranesi's energy was inexhaustible. He 
is responsible for about 1300 plates: he 
lived but fifty-eight years, and, assuming 


1739 ^^ ^^^ approximate date of his earliest 
work on the first set of plates, an output of 
roughly a plate a fortnight, without inter- 
mission, throughout the entire remainder of 
his life from his nineteenth year, is evidence 
that Piranesi was as industrious as he was 
skilful. But it must not be forgotten that 
these 1300 plates were by no means his 
only work. There was work of a kindred 
type, and in particular the restorations he 
carried out for Pope Clement xiii. There 
is, however, one thing certain about the 
position to-day of Piranesi's reputation 
in the eyes of students of architecture, 
and that is, that the industry which enabled 
so great a quantity of work to be produced 
did not mar the quality of that work or 
subject it to the liability of adverse criticism, 
which is often the result of a large output. 
The reputation of many a painter that has 
been built up by pictures hung separately 
may be diminished by the sight of a collec- 
tion of the one man's work seen as a whole. 


For instance, when an Exhibition is held 
at Burlington House of the collected works 
of an artist, recently deceased, if the col- 
lection is very representative, nothing is 
more likely to happen than that one 
comes away with the opinion that one 
has seen nothing fresh to add to the 
reputation of the painter, but has had a 
closer and increased knowledge of his 

Put Piranesi to a similar test, go through 
his hundreds of plates, and it will be 
observed that each etching contributes 
something to the degree and kind of our 
appreciation. As to faults of execution, 
it is surprising how difficult it is to 
detect them. Examining the work of 
men who etched before his time, and the 
work of men who, after his death, tried to 
imitate Piranesi, it will be thought that 
no work can be put forward which possesses 
quality sufficiently good to entitle it to be 
classed as a competitor with that of Piranesi. 


Other etchers have succeeded him, but none 
have yet replaced him. 

Nearly a thousand plates were published 
during his lifetime, and besides the question 
of monetary return the frequency with 
which fresh plates appeared injured his 
reputation. Had only a few subjects been 
etched and a limited number of impressions 
taken from the plates, the etchings would 
have been eagerly sought after, and the 
price obtainable correspondingly higher. 

The glut was accentuated after his death, 
for his sons Francesco and Pietro republished 
the etchings. By that time, however, the 
plates had become worn and the impressions 
had lost their charm and their original 
crispness. Unfortunately, the mischief did 
not stop there ; the plates were republished 
by Firmin Didot in 1835 at Paris, by which 
time all the sharpness which was the 
" quiddity " of the beauty of the etchings 
had disappeared for ever. 

The worn-out plates still exist, or they 


did exist till lately, and recent impressions 
from them are obtainable. They are, if still 
existing, in the possession of the Regia 
Calcografia at Rome, and of the etched 
works published by Piranesi's sons impres- 
sions of 1 1 80 plates can still be purchased 
by those who desire etchings from which all 
artistic value has long since disappeared. 

To those who wish to see Giovanni Piranesi 
the etcher at his best, it is useless to examine 
impressions other than those published in 
Rome on paper which is easily recognisable 
by its texture and thickness, and which was 
made on purpose for the etchings. Im- 
pressions later than the original Roman 
publications had better be left alone, as 
they are not only disappointing as works of 
art, but they entirely mislead the student 
who wishes to understand how Piranesi 
handled his work. 

It is also beside the mark to discuss here 
the various states of the plates from the 
collector's point of view — that is to say, to 


discuss or describe a plate in the inscription 
of which a " t '' may occur sometimes 
crossed and sometimes uncrossed, or minute 
variations of that kind. 

There were plenty of variations in the 
plates. But, so long as the impressions 
taken from them are of the original Roman 
issue, they are all interesting for reasons much 
more important than those esoteric ones by 
which they would be distinguished in the 
print collector's microscopic eyes. 

As to the edition published in Paris, in 
comparison with the original Roman im- 
pressions it is unworthy of being regarded 
seriously as representing Piranesi's work, 
and as for the modern Roman impressions, 
taken from the worn or retouched or refaced 
plates, they perpetrate violence on Piranesi's 
good name. 

With so many plates from which to 
choose, one is embarrassed by the difficulty 
of selection, and one neither knows where 
to begin nor when to stop. Addison's idea 


of Cowley's wit might perhaps apply to 
Piranesi's plates : — 

"One gUtt'ring thought no sooner strikes our eyes 
With silent wonder, but new wonders rise : 
As in the milky way a shining white 
O'erflows the heav'ns with one continued light ; 
That not a single star can shew his rays, 
Whilst jointly all promote the common blaze." 

Account of English Poets, to Mr. H. S. 

The etchings are seen to their best ad- 
vantage as wall decorations, but they are 
large, and take up the space usually required 
by a fair-sized oil painting ; therefore, unless 
the wall space be very extensive, half a 
dozen Piranesi etchings are about as many 
as one room will accommodate. 

Then, again, almost all the original im- 
pressions are equally beautiful as etched 
work, and they all maintain a high level of 
interest from the point of view of subject. 
On the other hand, an etching or two will 
no more show the irresistible force of this 
man than will the bazaar-born glass paper- 
weight with a photograph of Niagara 


reconstitute the appalling spectacle of the 
Falls at flood-time. So it is hard to 
decide which plates to prefer. Piranesi's 
work shows that his taste was of the most 
catholic kind — every style, every period, 
every object attracted him. He sipped 
from every flower upon which his eye 
rested, he transformed his harvest into a 
honey as useful as it was seductive. He 
handled his subject, too, on a liberal scale, he 
must express himself largely or not at all ; 
he found equal pleasure in etching the 
Antique, examples of the Renaissance period, 
ruins in the last stage of dilapidation. Classic 
monuments, bridges, churches, statues, vases, 
sarcophagi, urns, candelabra, mantelpieces, 
details of the water levels of lakes, ground 
plans, elevations, sections of mouldings, 
columns in fragments, and enrichments. In 
fact, every kind of work that was fine in 
conception or likely to be interesting or 
instructive to the student of archaeology or 
architecture, formed his farrago libellt. 


iyUtra v^duta in pnjsp^ttvveu cuUo jte£fO ^Sripijcw. 

curvaporc dille oe^ ar^ 



The most interesting designs used by the 
ancients for mouldings and carved decoration 
can be extracted from the etchings, and they 
are therefore a mine of wealth to the crafts- 
man in stone or wood. Piranesi placed in 
black and white, and at the disposal of the 
practical architect, a storehouse of knowledge, 
which before his time had been difficult of 
access, and the manner in which the Renais- 
sance style of architecture unfolded and 
developed itself can be followed by means 
of these etchings. 

As for collecting the entire set of the 
etchings, the difficulty would present itself 
of knowing how to deal with and arrange 
the many variations ocurring in quantities 
of the plates. For example, the two folios 
Vedute di Roma^ published in Rome in 1770, 
were originally composed of about 60 plates, 
and the number grew to 137, each plate 
having been issued separately and with 
intervals between each publication. But 
these two volumes of the Vedute di Roma 


have, in one instance, been found to be made 
up of 187 plates, most of the additional 
plates being duplicates with variations of all 
kinds, published during Piranesi's lifetime, 
and after he had completed and published 
the two folios of 1770. This set was 
selected by Piranesi himself for a friend. 

Some of the peculiarities of Piranesi's 
workmanship which particularly attract the 
craftsman are the burin work and the 
general beauty produced by the etching 
needle, and no man is able to realise how 
much etching can accomplish until Piranesi's 
execution has been examined. 

De Quincey and Coleridge call Piranesi 
" the Rembrandt of Etchers," and one 
characteristic alone, his treatment of light 
and shadow, entitles him to that description. 
Then there is his imagination and love of 
the gigantic, which Walpole said " would 
startle Geometry and exhaust the Indies to 
realise." De Quincey recalls that he had, 
with Coleridge, looked over some plates 



I 12 

gate Prison and the designer of the weird 
Carceri d'invenzione^ who, as a result of 
the custom of the Academy of the Arcadi 
to rename its members, appears himself as 
Salcindio Tiseio on a title-page of that 
series of his etchings of imaginary buildings 
which impressed Walpole. Dance was 
elected in 1764 ; Piranesi had at that date 
been a member for some years — certainly 
prior to 1750. 

It is interesting to note that after being 
made a member of this Society Piranesi 
picked his usual quarrel with another 
member, an architect, at an early oppor- 

Dance was given the whole credit for 
the architectural masterpiece which Old 
Newgate Prison undoubtedly was. But, 
inspired by Piranesi, who had lately 
created the Carceri d'invenzione^ and 
who was, if one adopts Professor Blom- 
field's estimate, the greatest architectural 
draughtsman who ever lived, it was placed 


in the power of Dance to produce a result 
which it was impossible for Dance again 
to match unaided, or in other directions. 
Professor Blomfield goes so far as to give 
the opinion that Newgate was, to all intents, 
more Piranesi than Dance. 

Another English architect enlisted his 
help. The Pitt Bridge over the Thames, 
finished in 1769 and commonly known as 
Old Blackfriars Bridge, was etched by 
Piranesi. When the plans of this Bridge 
were still in an undecided state, Robert 
Mylne, the architect, who had studied at 
Rome, handed a portion of his design to 
Piranesi, who elaborated it, and also etched 
a view of the bridge for Mylne at Rome in 

Piranesi corresponded with Mylne over 
a number of years, but although he 
maintained intimate relations with several 
English artists there are no evidences of his 
ever having been in England. 

The temperament of Piranesi had the 



fullest effect upon his work. If his triumphs 
brought him elation, he was in turn afflicted 
with a despair that was almost infernal. It 
was during those moments of gloom that he 
saw nothing but the failure of his career 
and a lost reputation. Under such mental 
distress were imagined the Carceri designs, 
and those sketches of ruins wherein grotesque 
impossibility was blended with reality. For 
instance, he gives a plate of a Roman altar, 
half eaten away by age and covered with 
the damp moss of centuries — desolation, 
utter desolation, decay, disaster, all written 
in every line. But no real ruin was ever 
like this, it is purely the work of imagina- 
tion, just as in Greek tragedy horror is piled 
upon horror, in order to shock the mind 
into a fitting condition of awe. The very 
shattered columns he drew, bound and 
twisted around with creepers, writhe almost 
in human agony. The despair, dissolution, 
and solitude conveyed by this treatment 
perhaps taught Gustave Dore how to handle 


the horrors with which he illustrated Le 
Juif Errant ; the same blending of sensation 
real and unreal may have enabled Edgar 
Allan Poe to arrive at a similar result in 
his stories. 

To return to Piranesi's artistic character- 
istics, his chief strength lay in execution. 
At times his drawing was faulty and his 
perspective bad. He even violated the rules 
of proportion and in many ways disregarded 
the rule of perspective whenever he found 
that course necessary for the better expression 
of his ideas. It is certain that he intention- 
ally drew thus for the purpose of obtaining 
particular effects, but whether this is an 
excuse worth anything or not, it is evident 
at a glance that several of his towers are 
drawn incorrectly. With an ellipse he was 
hopelessly impotent, his horizon is often 
taken too high, and sometimes his objects 
are crowded, but 

" Ubi plura nitent . . . non ego pauics 
OfFendar macuHs." 


In addition to faulty draughtsmanship, 
Piranesi indulged a habit of deliberately- 
amplifying in the plate the proportions of a 
building actually before him. The Veduta 
deir insigne Basilica Vaticana colT amplio 
Portico e Piazza adjacente^ and in fact most 
of his etchings of S. Pietro in Vaticano, are 
relevant as evidence in support of this asser- 
tion. Indeed, he dreamed and drew Rome 
more splendid than she had been, even at 
the zenith of her magnificence. This extra- 
vagance brought him into a dispute with 
Abbe Martin Choupy of Cap Martin, the 
investigator of Horace's Villa, who claimed 
that Piranesi had not been generally faithful 
to his subject. Piranesi thought it prudent 
to treat the matter as a joke, and to reply 
verbally, rather than to give Choupy the 
opportunity which a reply upon etched 
plate or letter paper would have afforded. 
The facts were plainly as stated by the Abbe, 
and Piranesi had no defence. 

The modifications and additions of this 


nature were not, however, made out of 
vulgar untruthfulness or dishonesty. With 
a fertile imagination, aided by an instinctive 
archaeological knowledge and appreciation, 
Piranesi was convinced that he could im- 
prove on the proportions of the scene before 
him, and as to him and to his patrons the 
centre of the world was Rome, there could, 
he thought, be no act of deception in his 
varying on paper the representation of build- 
ings which must be as well known to the 
artistic world as was his own right hand 
to the etcher himself. Piranesi considered 
Rome was so unlike any other city, that 
what was strange and ill-suited to another 
city was natural and proper in her case ; and 
in some instances, indeed, where Piranesi 
felt that he could improve upon the propor- 
tions of a scene or building, the effect he 
has obtained may be considered by some as 
almost sufficient to justify the tampering, so 
far as designing is concerned. 

His view, apparently, was, that after all, 


there were modern architects equal to those 
of the past, and that infallibility did not 
of necessity always lie on the side of the 
ancients. It has been claimed that Piranesi 
was not so untruthful as one might imagine, 
the explanation that is put forward by the 
late Mr. Russell Sturgis being that " he 
gave us the aspect of many a fine old build- 
ing in its more perfect condition before the 
havoc wrought by one and more centuries 
of Popes and Princes and of ignorant 
peasants, and also before the cleaning up of 
the present archaeological epoch." But that 
explanation certainly will not cover, for 
instance, Piranesi's extensions of Bernini's 
curved colonnades flanking the steps and 
Piazza of St. Peter's. These curved colon- 
nades never extended to the distance shown 
in Piranesi's plates during the etcher's life- 
time, or at any other time. 

Piranesi strove to realise in his etched 
work the brilliant atmosphere of Italy. The 
contrasts between his sunshine and shadow 




are effects which soon strike even a person 
entirely without knowledge of etching and 
its kindred arts. And there is probably no 
other etcher who has more nearly succeeded 
in conveying to the eye the impression of 
colour, and by means only of black ink on 
white paper. 

This was the result of Piranesi's habit of 
working out of doors ; he thus had constantly 
before his eyes the exact values of the shade 
and light, while the distinctions between the 
various colours were intensified by the brilli- 
ancy of the Italian atmosphere. When a 
portion of the subject on a plate is thrown into 
excessive shadow no detail is lost, every line is 
apparent, just as one can distinguish leaves 
notwithstanding the deep shadow of a forest. 
And this is no mean achievement, for the 
weatherbeaten and faded stone colours of 
his subject usually lent but little assistance 
towards Piranesi's sharply defined contrasts 
of shadow and light. But at times the limit 
is overstepped and the balance ruined. 


Then, with the extreme contrasts of light 
and shade, the sight is often baffled, and 
there is nothing left but for the eye to grope 
for what is intended. The printing of the 
plate, or help from the printer, have nothing 
whatever to do with the intense depths of 
light and shadow. The entire effect is 
produced by the etching tools ; every value, 
every stroke has been laid on with the 
precisely desired pressure and swell, without 
hesitation, and with perfect craftsmanship : 
from that came the impression, pure and 
deeply bitten. 

Figures of men and sometimes goats 
perched on fragments of stone are introduced 
into the etchings in order to show the pro- 
portions of a column, or other portion of a 
building, and the costumes of such figures 
are often of the period in which Piranesi 
lived. He was fond, too, of the figures of 
beggars in picturesque rags — old friends of 
his who had once on a time served him 
as models — and he caused them to appear 


gesticulating in a very lively fashion, cer- 
tainly appropriate to their vocation, but 
also entirely characteristic of the energy and 
impetuosity of the etcher himself. The 
movement of arms and hands in the figures 
of the beggars may indeed faithfully repre- 
sent the gestures of the Italian, always so 
delightfully expressive ; but in the etchings 
the interest they create is intensified by the 
probability that possibly they may have 
unconsciously reflected Piranesi's own fiery 
personal mannerisms. 

Reference has already been made to the 
influence of Piranesi upon Dance, the archi- 
tect of Newgate. Now, while Dance was 
at work on the Newgate drawings, there 
was in his employ an errand-boy or ap- 
prentice named Soan, afterwards known as 
Sir John Soane (1753-1837), architect of 
the Bank of England. I would like to say 
here that a very high authority is quite 
incorrect in stating that Soane's name was 
originally Swan. Mr. Walter Spiers, 


Curator of the Sir John Soane's Museum, 
has been kind enough to show me ample 
proof that Soane's father's name was Soan, 
and that the son remained Soan till 1783-4 
when, having grown prosperous, he added 
the fashionable "e.'* 

The boy Soan's mind was impressed by 
the work which his master, Dance, was 
carrying out, and there is reason to suspect 
that the feeling and treatment of Soane's 
Bank of England building were due to this 
Dance-Piranesi-Soane influence. " The cask 
remembers its first wine," as Horace has said. 

Soane having acquired an affectation of 
the Classic, grew into the habit of following 
Piranesi's ideas, and then attained the power 
of absorbing the marked peculiarities of the 
treatment and adapting them to his own 
purposes. Soane did not rely on Piranesi's 
etchings. He made elaborate drawings 
and measured plans of the Temple of Sibyl 
at Tivoli. The Sir John Soane's Museum 
contains a number of Soane's drawings of 


this nature, and, in addition, a quantity 
of interesting drawings of ruins by Robert 
Adam, which recall Piranesi's type of work 
and were probably drawn by Adam when 
he was in Italy and in close touch with 
Piranesi and Clerisseau. 

In this Museum are the drawings which 
perhaps are as well known as any of 
Piranesi's works — those of the Temple of 
Neptune at Passtum, executed by Piranesi 
and his son Francesco. They aflford proper 
opportunity of seeing the method by which 
the father worked, and also of judging how 
good was Francesco's work. 

The association between Soane and the 
Piranesi family endured longer than 
Piranesi*s life. The Soane Museum gives 
proof that Soane continued it by a friend- 
ship with Piranesi's son Francesco, for in 
the Museum there exist records that 
Francesco Piranesi actually gave Sir John 
Soane the Paestum series of drawings re- 
ferred to above 


All this serves as evidence that Piranesi's 
influence on them and their work was of 
great importance, to architectural as well 
as to furniture designers, during the period 
1750 to 1820. 

Not content with only influencing 
architecture and furniture, Piranesi even 
rambled into bookplates, designing and 
signing one for " Mr. Menzies.'' Mr. 
Menzies' bookplate is entirely such as 
might be expected from Piranesi's hand, 
a pictorial landscape, characteristic and in 
his peculiar style. This is an exceedingly 
rare plate, it is known and recorded and has 
been reproduced ; but an original example 
is not in the British Museum. No other 
English bookplate by Piranesi is known : 
that of the Earl of Aylesford, though like 
the work of Piranesi and usually attributed 
to him, is unsigned. The Earl of Alyesford 
is stated to have been himself an accom- 
plished draughtsman, and, as he also 
published etchings of his own, the proba- 




bility is that it was he who did this book- 
plate, and not Piranesi. 

Piranesi threw off multitudes of inter- 
esting small sepia drawings, mostly of 
architectural designs, and similar to his 
published etchings in subject and treatment, 
but they have attracted no attention in 
comparison with the etchings. 

In addition to the Paestum drawings at 
the Soane Museum, there are a few 
drawings at the British Museum, and in 
these, as in the Soane drawings, red chalk 
is employed to strengthen the effect. 
Among those in the British Museum is a 
curious drawing, probably with Pompeii 
as the scene, wherein an assassination is 
about to take place, — two men, carrying 
a corpse, are passing another intended 
victim, — a weird, imaginative, Piranesi 
piece of work. With it is a much finer 
drawing of an idea for a Temple of 
Victory. These drawings all go to one 
of two extremes, they are either just 


" knocked in," or the details are executed 
with extraordinary minuteness. 

In furniture and in the decoration of 
the interior of houses the names of Adam 
and Wedgwood seem to connect them- 
selves — Wedgwood's pottery being of 
course analogous to Adam's style of decora- 
tion in almost every respect. Wedgwood's 
plaques are often found in Adam furniture 
and decoration, and Sheraton employed 
Wedgwood continually. There is still to 
be seen a drawing from Sheraton's hand, 
showing Wedgwood plaques of Classic 
subjects, in a design for an existing satin- 
wood piano-case made in 1796 for Don 
Manuel de Godoy, Prince of the Peace. 

In much of the Classic pottery-work 
produced by Wedgwood there are character- 
istics easily traceable to Piranesi's etchings. 
Flaxman was employed by Wedgwood 
and Bentley about 1778, the year of 
Piranesi's death ; by that date, of course, 
Piranesi and his works had become well 


known in England. Shortly after he had 
been engaged by Wedgwood, Flaxman 
visited Rome. 

Now, if one examines work executed for 
Wedgwood by Flaxman, and then turns 
over the pages of Piranesi's folios, the 
evidence is strong, on the ground of 
similarity of treatment in the designs, that 
Flaxman's mind was influenced and helped 
by the records of Antique decoration which 
had been scarcely available to artists and 
designers until Piranesi had collected, 
etched, and placed them at the world's 
disposal. And in confirmation of this, it 
may be again mentioned that Piroli, the 
pupil and principal helper of Piranesi, was 
Flaxman's friend ; moreover, Piroli did 
work for Flaxman under the latter's close 
personal direction (see page 31). 

Then, again, there is further evidence of 
Piranesi's influence in Wedgwood pottery 
through Angelini. Angelini was that 
friend of Piranesi who executed the statue 


of the etcher which stands near the spot 
where Piranesi lies buried, and Wedgwood 
employed Angelini as a modeller : he exe- 
cuted a considerable amount of work for 
the celebrated potter. 

The purity of the taste of Wedgwood, 
attracted by that similar quality in Piranesi, 
instinctively recognised in the latter's work 
a powerful ally, and eagerly availed itself 
of the men who were saturated, not only 
with the personality of Piranesi, but with 
work and design as interpreted by Piranesi 
in his own peculiar manner. 

The etchings of the Paestum temples 
were among the favourites of Piranesi ; they 
also show how he could handle deep and 
black shadows. He has made the most 
of his capacity to deal with absolute black 
and intense white while etching the 
shattered fragments of architecture strewn 
on the sites of the temples. Sturgis has 
told us that in the middle of the eighteenth 
century the Paestum temples were as 


ruinous as now — for 150 years not a stone 
has fallen. This shows that time has little to 
do with the destruction of a solid building — 
man is the culprit — so long as no disaster 
such as an earthquake or a flood occurs 
meantime. The Paestum temples suffered 
more at the hands of the inhabitants of the 
town of Pesto than from anything during 
the centuries which have passed over 
them since the inhabitants left that fever- 
stricken district. Poseidonia, Passtum, Pesto, 
existed as a city for about 1 500 years, 
better known for its roses than for its 
importance as a city or port — it filled the 
flower vases of the Northern Italian cities 
as does the South of France for us to-day. 
Passtum rose trees blossomed twice a year — 

" biferique rosaria Paesti." 

Verg. Georg. 4. 119. 

Although Piranesi employed the Temple 

of Neptune at Paestum to support his 

Etruscan theory, Paestum was a Dorian 

Greek city, a colony of Sybaris, founded 



about 600 B.C. It was brought under 
Roman rule after the failure of Pyrrhus's 
invasion in 273 b.c. It languished as a 
city, and the Saracens destroyed it in the 
ninth century ; the site of the place is 
now a desolate waste. Within the Greek 
walls of a circuit of two and a half miles, 
with eight towers and four gates, are the 
ruins of three Doric temples, perhaps the 
most wonderful remains of Greek archi- 
tecture, with the exception of the temples 
at Athens. There are also remains of a 
Roman amphitheatre and temple. The 
most interesting of the temples is that of 
Neptune, the entablature and pediments of 
which are practically intact. All the ex- 
terior columns and most of the interior were 
standing in Piranesi's time. There are 
fourteen columns on the flanks on a stylo- 
bate of three steps ; the cella has two double 
ranges of seven Doric columns, the lower 
tiers of which are still complete, and ex- 
posure to weather has given the stone a 


mellow rich colour. This temple dates 
from the fifth century B.C. The other, dedi- 
cated to Ceres, is constructed in a manner 
similar to that of the Temple of Neptune, 
and goes back to the sixth century B.C. The 
Basilica, which Piranesi calls " the house of 
the Amphictyonic Council," is of Greek 
Doric structure, built in an unusual way. 
Many theories have been advanced to ex- 
plain its uncommon plan, the most reason- 
able being that the temple was double, one 
half being dedicated to the worship of 
Demeter, the other to Persephone. This 
too belongs to the early portion of the sixth 
century B.C. Piranesi was quite wrong in his 
contentions about Etruscan work at Paestum 
(see page 14), and he was not justified in 
the attempt to convert into dogma that 
which was no more than his personal 
opinion founded upon imperfect information. 
The etchings of these P^stum temples 
are as well known in England as any of 
Piranesi's works. 


Among the other favourites of the etcher 
was the Pantheon. He etched in detail 
several plates of the Pantheon with the 
utmost care : he reproduced to scale com- 
plete plans, sections, and elevations of this 

His son Francesco etched and published 
several excellent plates of the Pantheon; they 
appear in company with his father's etched 
plates of the same building, but without 
acknowledgment of assistance from his 
father's elaborate studies, to which Francesco 
undoubtedly had access. 

The scratch of Piranesi's needle has con- 
jured on to paper fine old designs of every 
kind. The American architects have drawn 
liberally on his entire output, and the result 
is a delight to the eye. In America, for 
public buildings, the Classic form of archi- 
tecture is exceedingly popular — in the 
Dominion singularly so. Canadian bank- 
buildings, and they are certainly plentiful 
enough everywhere to force themselves on 


the eye, almost invariably suggest the Classic 
style of architecture. 

That may perhaps be traced to the strong 
element of Scotch origin among the leading 
men in Canadian public and commercial 
life. Edinburgh itself, Robert Adam and 
the Classic style have remained in the recol- 
lection of the Scottish-born Canadians, and 
have influenced and still influence their 
taste. Admirable in many cases are the 

A few examples of the style are — the City 
Hall and the Illinois Trust Buildings at 
Chicago ; the Capitol at Minneapolis ; the 
Knickerbocker Trust Building on Fifth 
Avenue, New York ; the decorations of the 
Library of the University Club, New York; 
the interior of the Bank of Montreal at 
Montreal ; and the treatment of the exteriors 
of many of the public buildings in New 
York. The whole design of the recently 
erected Station for the Pennsylvania Rail- 
road*s tunnels under the Hudson River was 


inspired by that of the Baths of Caracalla. 
It is not altogether fanciful to assert that 
in many instances a touch of Piranesi's 
assistance is to be found. 

During the eighteenth century it was the 
habit of Englishmen to travel abroad, and 
especially to visit Italy. Those w^ho had 
sufficient funds, or credit, or neither, took to 
collecting objets d'art^ not entirely as an 
intellectual pleasure, but because they found 
v^hile in Italy it vv^as becoming the fashion 
to collect, and besides, it not only gave the 
traveller occupation, but also enabled him, 
on his return, to produce silent evidence of 
that superiority with which a grand tour 
was considered to stamp a man, as nowadays 
heads of big game win social consideration 
and excite envy. Quantities of works of art 
were procured, often with little discrimina- 
tion ; houses in England became decorated 
with the spoils, and the monotonouswalls that 
are still hung with Italian paintings of the 
late seventeenth and early eighteenth century 


owe their sombre unpopularity to the hunt 
for grand -tour trophies fashionable in 
Piranesi's time. In his day Italy was attract- 
ive for reasons other than for itself alone. 
There were two special reasons : Venice and 
Rome. Venice in the eighteenth century 
was the bear-garden and playground of 
Europe. The Bourbons ruled at Naples 
and Milan was subject to Austria, but 
Venice, her own mistress and under no 
external restraint, was whirling herself 
towards disaster in an orgy of pleasure 
provided by wealth acquired in the days of 
her earlier commercial ascendancy. Money 
flowed like water in Venice, and M. Monnier 
has described the scene and how her day 
closed to the sounds of revelry and the 
rattle of squandered gold. 

The desire of Piranesi's father that his 
son should return to Venice was born of 
the hope that the son should benefit by the 
extravagances of the Venetians and by the 
streams of gold poured out for works of art 


by visitors to their city. Venice alone 
among Italian cities in the eighteenth century 
possessed the attraction of a school of 
painting of her own ; she had a style of her 
own, and Venetian painters took rank with 
the most celebrated artists in Europe. 
There was Canaletto whose pictures can still 
be read for the news of his day ; they are 
as talkative as are the halfpenny morning 
papers of more modern times. There was 
Longhi, the Lancret of Venice, with his 
pastel box, Guardi, Marieschi, and Bellotto. 
The Venice that attracted and dazzled the 
world of rank and fashion with her fetes 
and follies, picnics, plays, people, and 
scandal, is all chronicled in the newspapers 
that Canaletto published and called pictures. 
And how well he knew how to interest 
his readers when he threw a scarlet cloak 
against a piece of yellow brickwork, or 
made the light on a gondola's metal fittings 
sing a duet with the lavender tints of the 
Canal. He jotted it all down for you. 


everything that went on, and anything he 
overlooked Guardi perceived and recorded. 
Every one went to Venice ; politics did not 
count there, and no Venetian had time or 
inclination to weary visitors with discussions 
of an intellectual kind. 

It was in very truth the delightful place 
that Casanova in an outburst of honest 
gratitude and admiration declared the world 
to be. Nothing really serious was happen- 
ing there in those times, except perhaps 
that the year 1757 was marked by a visit 
from an Irish giant who asserted that he 
was the tallest man in Europe and weighed 
thirty stone. The Venice of that date may 
perhaps be best described as Venice with the 
addition of a city made up by turning 
Constantinople loose in Paris and throwing 
in all the amusements and characteristics of 
modern Monte Carlo. It did not, in 1765, 
leave even Gibbon unmoved. "The spec- 
tacle of Venice afforded some hours of 
astonishment." As Gibbon usually thought 


in centuries the word " hours '' is pleasing. 
Beckford called the Campanile the Tower 
of Babel; Goethe was fascinated by the 
glittering enchantment of Venice, and 
Voltaire epitomises the matter by that 
scene in Candide where the hero dines in 
Venice with six chance companions who 
turn out to be kings holiday-making. 
Everything was thought of in the diminu- 
tive and frivolous key : — in the morning a 
little prayer, in the afternoon a little card- 
playing, in the evening a little love-making. 
Tiepolo became Tiepoletto. There was 
reverence for nothing, except for Night ; 
the respectful attitude of the Venetian 
towards the Beauty of Night was as extra- 
ordinary as it was humble. 

In no capital, indeed in no city in the 
world was society more polished, foolish, 
elegant, spendthrift, and entertaining than at 
Venice, and the very excesses of frivolity 
helped to provide the reaction which 
indirectly induced the cultivated and 


wealthy to turn towards the quiet pleasures 
of collecting works of art. The extrava- 
gances were almost beyond conception. 
The Pisani family entertained Gustavus of 
Sweden in such a lavish fashion that he 
declared it would have been impossible for 
him to return the hospitality. M. Monnier 
relates in his delightful book that in the 
winter of 1782 the future Czar Paul and his 
wife were received with fetes of a magnifi- 
cence equalled only in the pages of the 
Arabian Nights : a regatta on the Canal, 
a bullfight in the Piazza, a banquet in the 
theatre of S. Samuele, the auditorium and 
whole stage of which were hung from ceiling 
to floor with satin and silver ; and when the 
Emperor Joseph 11. came, the entire dock of 
St. Mark was turned into a magician's lake 
and a garden of enchantment, with wooded 
islets, music, myrtle groves, nymphs and 
grottos, and at night Venice was illuminated 
and dressed with flags. The private libraries 
of the great Venetian families were the 


admiration of every student, and the Forsetti 
had founded the finest botanical garden in 
the world. There was a private Academy 
of Fine Arts in the home of the Pisani, and 
Pietro Longhi was its curator. Rosalba 
was painting everybody ; Pasquali Albrizzi 
and Zatta were producing books that were 
the most delicious specimens of the printer's 
art. Casanova was practising adventures for 
his own amusement which he afterwards 
recorded for our instruction. Da Ponte 
was composing libretti for Mozart, every one 
was enjoying himself, some in scoffing at the 
serious who, in turn, philosophised about 
the fun of the scoffers. And, lest anything 
should be wanting to make the whole 
perfect, Venice was supplied with an 
adequate seasoning of great English milords 
with the spleen. 

Rome was the other magnet, from the 
poles of which flowed currents charged 
with sentimental and political attraction for 
the opponents of the Hanoverian dynasty 




in Great Britain ; the old Pretender lived 
there till his death, and Prince Charles 
Edward on the death of his father had 
made Rome his own headquarters. In the 
plates of Piranesi's Vast Candelabri many 
of the names to whom certain of the plates 
are dedicated have a Scottish ring about 
them, and Sir Walter Scott's dining parlour 
was hung with some of the impressions. 
Apart from the mere pleasure of travelling 
in Italy and visiting Venice and Rome, 
wealthy Britons had taken kindly to col- 
lecting, and had by degrees acquired the 
habit of employing special agents in Rome 
to watch for, and to secure on their behalf, 
the prizes won by the delvings and diggings 
that were carried out from time to time in 
and around Rome. 

In the days after the '45, Winckelmann 
was in great repute ; the opinions he held, 
as a result of studies in Rome (published 
in 1764 in his History of Ancient Art)^ had 
roused the enthusiasm of such men as 


Lessing, Schiller, and Goethe. His formulae 
became a frequent theme for discussion ; his 
descriptions of the Two Graces, in which he 
developed the idea of an antithesis between 
the Lofty and the Beautiful, drew admira- 
tion from every scholar. Thus it was that 
the world of his day arrived at the point 
where it agreed with Winckelmann's views, 
and accepted them as the true expression 
of the general principles of the Art of 
Classical Antiquity. The scattered embers 
of artistic perception steadily coaxed by 
Winckelmann, were fanned into flame by 
the interest excited by Piranesi*s etchings ; 
the taste for the Antique, especially for the 
severity of fine statuary, grew more and 
more pronounced, and at length delight 
in aesthetic ornament burst into an intense 

Winckelmann and Piranesi, each from his 
own particular standpoint, had been edu- 
cating and directing the public towards the 
appreciation of what they described as the 


Beautiful and the Noble. Unceasingly 

they preached as their text — 

". . . exemplaria Graeca 
nocturna versate manu, versate diurna." 

Winckelmann was the High Priest of 
what he himself calls " noble simplicity 
and calm grandeur,'* and Piranesi, more 
articulate by reason of his power of etching, 
" Poet Laureate of the Ruins." Both of these 
men were cultivated even by those Italians 
who, principally to be in the fashion, had 
thrown themselves into Art collecting. The 
consequence was that they were brought by 
their patrons and admirers into contact with 
the streams of visitors to Rome. As to 
Piranesi, his excitable and quarrelsome 
habits do not appear to have interfered with 
his popularity among collectors, nor to have 
lessened the general appreciation of his 
genius. Every door in Rome seems to 
have been open to him, and he was wel- 
comed everywhere. Speaking broadly, 
music, cards, Piranesi, and Art chatter 


provided an entertainment increasingly ac- 
ceptable to the Italian nobility at Rome, 
and at the same time amusing to their 
foreign guests. If in their capacity of 
entertainers, in the salons of their Roman 
admirers, Winckelmann and Piranesi quietly 
proceeded with the work of educating 
Society, and then, to use an expressive 
colloquialism, " booming " the taste for 
collecting, they did so in no unworthy 
manner and for no unworthy purpose. 
They at last placed the real love of 
collecting on its firmest feet, endowed 
it with life, and dispatched it on its 
way. They inspired with their own en- 
thusiasm, among others, the Earl of Shel- 
burne, Charles Townley, Thomas Mansel 
Talbot, Lord Lincoln, Lord Egremont, Coke 
of Norfolk's great-uncle, Thomas Coke of 
Holkham, and many other lesser lights. 
To some extent the reputation on the Con- 
tinent of Europe, for the prodigality and 
madness, even then usually thought to be 




enjoyed by Englishmen, was confirmed, if 
not indeed founded, by the liberal manner in 
which the English amateurs bought or paid 
for their purchases. In such times and 
under such conditions was founded the 
Townley collection of marbles, now the 
pride of the British Museum, and with the 
willing assistance of the two principal 
British antiquarian agents in Rome, Lans- 
downe House and Petworth were similarly 
adorned by their respective owners. Num- 
bers of other English amateurs and collectors 
became interested in Piranesi, and many of 
their names can be seen in his etchings. 
The principal agents assisting the collectors 
were two painters, but as painters they are 
not usually recalled. One was Jenkins, 
who as an artist had accompanied to Rome 
Richard Wilson, the great English landscape 
painter. Jenkins learnt much in his com- 
pany, though apparently not of painting, 
and having amassed a considerable fortune 
by favour of Clement xiv., at length 



became the principal English banker in 
Rome ; on the arrival of the French, how- 
ever, he was driven from the city, and all 
his property was confiscated by them. He 
fled to England, and died at Great Yarmouth 
immediately on his landing after a storm at 
sea, in 1798. 

The other was Gavin Hamilton, of 
Murdieston, a portrait painter, who had 
spent most of his life at Rome, where he 
ultimately died of fright, during the French 
invasion in 1797. 

They dabbled at first as collectors for 
their own pleasure, and as amateurs. But 
by degrees both took seriously to selling for 
profit, and at length were able to gather 
around them a valuable circle of customers. 
Jenkins financed the partnership, and 
Hamilton was the salesman. As time went 
on, Hamilton found his aboveground supply 
of objets d'art less than enough to meet the 
demand of his customers ; he forthwith 
turned to excavating, and with capital 


success. To Gavin Hamilton certainly 
must be given credit for having played the 
chief part in getting together one or more 
of the collections which, in course of time, 
w^ent to form the British Museum. 

Monsieur GefFroy, dealing with some 
unedited papers of Francesco Piranesi at 
Stockholm, tells of Gavin Hamilton. He 
was, says M. Geffroy, celebrated in Rome, 
" par ses belles manieres qui n'excluaient 
pas I'habilete," and he rendered himself 
interesting by the tears he shed on effecting 
a sale of a work of art. It is reassuring, 
however, to learn that he solaced himself 
with large profits for the pain he suffered 
by being deprived of the pleasure of retain- 
ing any particular specimen. It fell to 
Hamilton's good fortune to deal with such 
treasures of the Villa Montalto as remained 
from the collection gathered together there 
by Sixtus v., while that Pope was still 
Cardinal Peretti de Montalto, but the supply 
of fine things fell short of the demands of 


Hamilton's customers. And the Villa 
Montalto stood on no ordinary soil. It had 
once been the garden of Maecenas, with all its 
masterpieces. Nor could Jenkins materially 
assist in keeping pace with the demand, 
though good fortune afforded him the 
opportunity of stripping, not only the Villa 
d'Este at Tivoli, but also the Villa Mattei. 

The clamours of Hamilton's and Jenkins' 
eager buyers were difficult to satisfy, and 
therefore, it is said, Jenkins caused cameos 
and intaglios to be made, and, on propitious 
nights, planted teeming furrows of them in 
the ruins of the Colosseum. The abundant 
harvest followed in proper season. He then 
passed on to the next step in the rotation, 
and sowed a crop of sepulchral urns bearing 
attractive but ill-fitting inscriptions. Joseph 
Nollekens, R.A., relates, says " Rainy Day " 
Smith, that he saw Jenkins' men preparing 
the cameos, and that Jenkins gave him a 
" whole handful to say nothing about the 
matter to any one else but myself" 


Farming under such conditions could not 
fail to be lucrative, and Hamilton then 
looked around for an increased acreage of 
likely soil. His next move was to turn an 
inquisitive spade in the grounds of the 
Villa of Hadrian at Tivoli. The Villa had, 
even prior to that date, yielded many 
fine things. He drained a swamp there in 
1769, and dug. The swamp itself was the 
bed of the Lake Pantanello ; it lay about 
two miles from Tivoli, and although formerly 
a portion of Hadrian's Tiburtine Villa, was 
at that time the property of the Lolli family. 
An excavation had already been made on 
the site by that family, but Hamilton 
determined to reinvestigate the spot. His 
proceedings are narrated by Dallaway, who 
quotes Hamilton's letters to Townley, the 
collector of the marbles now in the British 
Museum. Hamilton's men found an outlet 
for the water of Pantanello by working a 
passage to an old drain cut in the tufa. 
They worked for weeks by lamplight up to 


the knees in stagnant slime; full of toads and 
serpents, but found little, Lolli having 
already discovered all there was. Some 
labourers, however, who formerly had been 
employed by Lolli, put the explorers on a 
fresh scent, and a hole containing trunks 
of trees was at length discovered. Here 
Hamilton's success, genuine or not, was 
certainly extraordinary. More than sixty 
pieces of sculpture, some of them of extreme 
beauty and fineness, came to light. Quan- 
tities of statues and trees, the remains, prob- 
ably, of a sacred grove, were found, and, of 
the sculptures taken from the hole, the 
following were bought by Lord Shelburne, 
at the costs noted, and are at Lansdowne 
House — 

Statue of Cincinnatus .... ;f 500 

Statue of Paris ..... 200 

Cupid and Psyche .... 300 

Antinous ...... 50 

Antinous as an Egyptian Deity . . 75 

Bust of a Victor in the Olympic Games 75 

Pudicitia ...... 50 

Head of a Muse . . . . . 15 


Two Egyptian Idols in black marble . ;^I50 
Bas-relief in black marble ... 50 

Hamilton went farther afield after the 
neighbourhood of the Pantanello swamp 
had been cropped barren. He began to 
delve the whole district lying on the 
outskirts of Rome, succeeding meantime 
in attracting foreign Sovereigns as buyers of 
the spoils. In fact, Hamilton and Jenkins 
reigned supreme in the salons as leaders 
of the then prevailing fashion, which 
became so attractive and popular that at 
length the crowned and coroneted heads 
of Europe began to devote themselves to 
the collecting of antique statuary with the 
zeal nowadays applied by their successors 
to the doing of humane and charitable 
works. Goethe himself, in his Winckel- 
mann^ claims that posterity is indebted to 
Gavin Hamilton for having widened the 
field from which painters could draw 
their subjects, for they were enabled by 
the study of masterpieces, unearthed by 


Hamilton, to produce work with increased 
correctness of drawing, and with greater 
regard for beauty of form. 

Hamilton extended his researches to Tor 
Colombaro, on the Appian Way. Two 
spots he excavated, one a temple of 
Domitian, and the other a Villa of Gallienus, 
both the property of Cardinal Chigi, and 
about nine miles from Rome. Gallienus 
had robbed the temple and had trans- 
ferred its contents to his own Villa. The 
Lansdowne Marcus Aurelius {£2^0) , the 
Amazon (/^2oo), the Hermes (Meleager) 
(^600) owe to Hamilton their rescue 
from the soil on which the Villa stood, 
as does the Discobolos in the Musee Pio- 
Clementino. In view of the prices paid 
for works of art at the present day, it is 
interesting to note in the Report of the 
Elgin Committee of the House of Commons 
(p. 98) that it is stated that the Lans- 
downe collection of Roman marbles was 
acquired for ^7000, and Payne Knight 


in his evidence before the Committee 
placed the value of the collection at 
^11, GOO. Hamilton also explored Monte 
Cagnolo, the Villa of Antoninus Pius, but 
as his commission from Lord Shelburne 
had been suspended in 1773, the Lansdow^ne 
collection contains nothing from that spot. 
In Hamilton's letters to Lord Shelburne 
frequent reference is made to the necessity 
of " smuggling " the pieces of sculpture 
out of Papal dominions, as the Pope in- 
sisted upon having the first refusal of 
them for himself. Hamilton records that 
he had to do certain things for the 
purpose " of keeping Visconti and his 
companion my friends." Visconti super- 
intended archaeological researches on behalf 
of the Papal authorities, having succeeded 
Winckelmann as Surveyor of Antiquities, 
and he exercised that office till his death 
in 1784. His famous son, Ennio Quirino 
Visconti, produced, among other publica- 
tions, a work on the Inscriptions of the 


Jenkins collection, and followed his father 
in the completion of the celebrated work 
Museum Pio-Glementhnim. His views must 
be accepted with reserve, for the Danish 
archaeologist Zoega has said that Visconti 
was always ready with an explanation 
whether the subject admitted of an ex- 
planation or not. In a letter of ist July 
1773, Hamilton informs Lord Shelburne 
" Piranese is come down of his price of 
the candelabri to 130 zechines which he 
says is the lowest he can sell them for, 
so shall await your lordship's further 
orders." He again refers to these 
"candelabri of Piranese" in a letter of 
9th August 1775. In a Memorandum 
by Lord Shelburne on his collection of 
sculpture (Feb. 1777) there is the following 
entry : — 

" No. 3. Blue Room. 
No. 2. Urns and Vases. I have 6 of these in all — 
all very indifferent except one I bought of 
Dean the Painter and which he had of 
Piranesi. It is engraved in his w^orks." 


Although the fashion had taken some 
years to work its way through to the 
highest stratum of society, it had been 
assisted on its journey by the habits then 
prevailing among the Italians, and more 
particularly among the Venetians. As a 
reaction and protest against the incessant 
gaieties and the thoughtless extravagances 
of the day, many well-placed Italians, even 
if comfortably endowed, had, for some 
years before the publication of Piranesi's 
etchings, maintained the thrifty but un- 
genial practice of not allowing their homes 
to be used for hospitable gatherings, 
or indeed for scarcely any simple social 
meeting wherein monetary outlay would 
be incurred. Every effort was made to 
reduce the housekeeper's expenditure to a 
minimum, but the leading families made 
it a point of honour to divert a portion 
of their retrenchments towards the upkeep 
and replenishing of family collections of 
works of art, and others began to study 


and to collect, in order to acquire stronger 
title to social advancement. These motives 
were nearly sufficient to render a fine work 
of art certain of obtaining proper recogni- 
tion, but there was an additional incentive 
to collecting because the taste for gambling, 
always present among the idle of all 
countries, could be gratified by the hazard 
of a speculation in mining for statues and 
for objects of archaeological interest, and 
among the spoils removed in after years 
from Italy to the Louvre were many 
pieces of sculpture which Francesco Pira- 
nesi or Hamilton or Jenkins had seen dug up, 
and the cost of whose discovery represents 
an Italian noble's larder economies. 

Catherine ii., Augustus of Saxony, Fer- 
dinand IV. of Naples, and the Grand Duke 
of Tuscany specially distinguished them- 
selves as collectors. But with Gustavus iii. 
of Sweden rests the supreme distinction of 
having been the first Sovereign actually 
to maintain at Rome a properly accredited 


Minister for the transaction of affairs con- 
nected with Art, for that and for no other 
purpose. Gustavus, while Crown Prince, 
had shown an early inclination towards 
collecting works of art. This taste had 
been encouraged and educated by his tutor, 
the cultivated Tessin, himself an ardent 
collector, who, in former days, while 
Swedish Ambassador at the Court of 
Louis XV., had been the friend of Boucher, 
and on terms of intimacy with the artistic 
Bohemia of Paris of that date. 

Gustavus's taste for collecting increased 
with age ; he interested himself in all 
matters connected with Art, properly 
avoiding " oil painting " as the usual and 
sole definition of Art, and by degrees got 
together a collection of objects of the 
utmost beauty, which he later on handed 
over to the Museum at Stockholm. 

Now, among the foreign diplomats ac- 
credited to the Swedish King was Bianconi, 
Minister from the Saxon Court, and a 


personal friend of Piranesi. Bianconi, who 
wrote Piranesi's obituary notice in the 
Antologia Romana^ formed a link between 
the etcher and the Crown Prince of Sweden ; 
and when the latter, after two journeys to 
Italy, at length determined to enrich the 
Stockholm Museum with specimens of 
the Antique, he turned for assistance to 
Francesco, the son of the now deceased 
Piranesi. Gustavus had first seen Francesco 
at Pisa some years before, and Francesco 
Piranesi thus became the Swedish Agent, 
formally appointed, but of course not 
received by the Pope, being the repre- 
sentative of a Protestant Sovereign. 

The famous statue of Endymion at Stock- 
holm was bought by Gustavus iii. at 
Francesco Piranesi's recommendation. It is 
recognised as being a fine work, and is con- 
sidered to be of earlier date than that of the 
reign of Hadrian, from the ruins of whose 
Villa at Tivoli it was reported to have 
been dug. Whether there is ground for 


thinking it was the fruit of carefully sown 
seed, it is not necessary to discuss here in 
connection with Piranesi, as he was not 
in any way concerned with that part of 
the statue's possible history. 

After some years, Gustavus purchased 
from Francesco Piranesi the collection 
formed by his father, paying Francesco a 
life annuity of 630 sequins^ in return, 
which Francesco seems to have enjoyed 
for perhaps fourteen years. 

Giovanni Piranesi's collection contained 
many items, the alleged origin of which 
was Hadrian's Villa, and probably they 
had actually come from the Villa, in 
view of the fact that the elder Piranesi 
had died just before Hamilton and Jenkins 
began serious operations at Tivoli ; and 
although one recalls the suspicion attached 
to spoils from Hadrian's Villa, it must not 
be forgotten that Giovanni Piranesi had 
himself investigated and surveyed the 
^ A sequin was worth about 9s. 


Villa at about the time of Adam's visit 
in 1757. With the collection were sent 
to Stockholm two catalogues of the various 
items it contained. They describe accu- 
rately how the articles had passed into 
Giovanni Piranesi's possession, and give the 
names of their restorers, and state what 
restorations had been carried out. 

Continual streams of Art treasures from 
Rome at length roused the Papal authorities 
into action, and Clement xiv. and Pius vi., 
each in turn, placed legal restrictions against 
the removal of masterpieces for the purpose 
of sale and export. Papal funds, at this 
juncture, were instrumental in founding the 
Pio-Clementino Museum, and Clement xiv. 
went so far as to appoint a competent 
person, Visconti, to superintend all archaeo- 
logical excavations within the limits of 
Papal territory. Pius vi. took great interest 
in archaeological research, assisting Francesco 
Piranesi, who dedicated to him a series of 
etchings of temples. The frontispiece of 


the series bears the portrait of Pius vi., 
together with indications of that Pope 
having been the restorer of the Appian 
Way, and the benefactor of the Pio- 
Clementino Museum. 

Thus, the father having played his part 
in kindling the antiquarian taste of Europe, 
his son, Francesco Piranesi, completes the 
work of assisting to bring the desire for 
the possession of masterpieces to such a 
pitch as to awake eventually a sense of 
duty which compelled the Papal Govern- 
ment to join in the search, and at the 
same time to place itself at the head of 
the investigations, with a view not only of 
preventing dispersion beyond Italy, but of 
filling the Pio-Clementino Museum. 

After the assassination of Gustavus iii., 
Francesco Piranesi's position changed con- 
siderably : he became a sort of Swedish 
Consul. The Duke of Sudermania, Regent 
for Gustavus Adolphus iv., desiring to rid 

himself of a certain Count Gustav Armfelt^ 


sent that nobleman on a mission to the 
Italian Court. Lady Holland met him at 
Florence, and speaks of him as " Armfelt 
with the white handkerchief round his arm, 
a pose which gained him considerable 
female interest." Francesco attached him- 
self officially to Armfelt. Although Sweden 
had never varied in her chivalrous attach- 
ment to the Bourbons, Armfelt was under 
strict orders not to meddle with matters 
connected with the French imigrds^ many 
of whom had been his friends in earlier 
days. These orders Armfelt disregarded. 

Piranesi then played the spy on Armfelt, 
writing frequent dispatches to the Govern- 
ment at Stockholm on the condition of 
affairs at Rome. This correspondence is 
in the Royal Archives at Stockholm, and 
it affords a peep, from an interesting angle, 
into the history of what was alleged to be 
going on in Rome during the period of the 
French Revolution. 

Francesco was not, it seems, a man 

possessed of too acute a sense of honour, 
and, although it cannot be proved positively 
that such was really the case, I am inclined 
to think that a considerable number of the 
etchings bearing his name published by 
him after his father's death were simply 
etched by Francesco from carefully drawn 
detailed plans made by his father. This 
refers particularly to some of the Hercu- 
laneum and Pantheon plates signed by 
Francesco, and I am of the opinion that 
he deliberately concealed the fact that he 
owed anything, and perhaps everything, 
in connection with those plates, to material 
provided by his father. My view is more- 
over strengthened by the fact that Tipaldo 
does not regard the Theatre of Herculaneum 
plates as other than the father's work — he 
entirely ignores Francesco in relation to 
them. He bases his opinions on those of 
Bianconi, who was, as has been previously 
stated, personally acquainted with Giovanni 

1 64 

Having exhausted the possibilities of 
the unworthy intrigues attached to his 
office as spy, Francesco Piranesi sank 
into depths of an even more unsavoury 
nature, by acting as an official for the 
administration of the finances of the Roman 
Republic, after Rome had been occupied 
by the French. Michaud is unsupported in 
the statement that he was sent as Minister 
to France. His friend Ennio Quirino 
Visconti, however, had allowed himself to 
be made a Consul when the Roman Re- 
public was set up. When Napoleon 
removed to France some of the finest 
specimens of ancient Art, Visconti took 
them to Paris, where he was employed as 
Conservateur des Antiques, and in 1814 
was among the first to detect the super- 
lative merit of the Elgin marbles. 

At length finding his own position un- 
congenial, Francesco Piranesi, towards the 
middle of 1798, packed up the copper 
plates of his father's etchings and his 




working tools as a craftsman, and trans- 
ferred his energies to Paris, going thither 
by sea. During the voyage the ship fell 
in with and was captured by a squadron 
under Sir Thomas Troubridge, which had 
become detached from Lord St. Vincent's 
fleet. Nelson was then at Naples on the 
Vanguard^ and British ships were actively 
employed in that part of the Mediterranean 
in blockading ports so as to prevent supplies 
reaching the French troops. The captured 
ship containing Piranesi's property was an 
armed French brig laden for the most part 
with spoil taken by the French from the 
Italians. The name of Giovanni Piranesi 
and the fame of his etchings were evidently 
known to Admiral Troubridge, for he felt 
respect for the etchings sufficient to cause 
him to persuade the officers and men who 
had effected the capture to restore the 
copper plates to the son of the etcher. He 
further obtained from the French Govern- 
ment the concession that these plates should 


be admitted into France free of duty, 
and that Francesco Piranesi should be pro- 
tected in his future possession of them. 
After Troubridge had succeeded in making 
these arrangements, Francesco came on board 
the Admiral's ship and received back his 
property. At the same time he presented 
to Troubridge a complete set of impressions. 

This set of the etchings passed afterwards 
through the hands of several other owners, 
and eventually came into possession of 
Alderman Josiah Boydell, Master of the 
Stationers' Company, during the early years 
of the nineteenth century ; Troubridge 
having found these etchings scarcely suit- 
able for the cabin of a sea captain had, 
with the help of Tucker (Lord St. Vincent's 
secretary), exchanged them for a library of 
books more fitted for his purpose at sea, and 
the books thus received by him in exchange 
went down with him in the Blenheim, 

At Paris, Francesco Piranesi devoted his 
energies to making casts from the Antique, 


and to republishing his father's etchings, 
together with those which he himself had 
produced. He dedicated a portion of the 
impressions forming the edition to his 
patron Gustavus iii., and this is the French 
edition of the etchings which is, as has 
already been explained, vastly inferior to the 
original Roman impressions. 

It is to be regretted that Troubridge did 
not throw the copper plates overboard ; it 
would have spared Piranesi's reputation 
from the violence that is still done to it 
by the coarse and spoiled impressions that 
were, from time to time, issued by any 
enterprising person who cared to hire the 
worn-out plates for a day's printing. Such 
impressions grossly misrepresent Piranesi's 
work. I believe these plates can still be 

The French Government assisted Fran- 
cesco, recognising that this publication 
was likely to be of national benefit, as 
indeed it was, though the benefit was not 


confined to France alone, because it caused 
Piranesi's work to be distributed and placed 
at the disposal of designers generally ; but, 
none the less, Francesco achieved no financial 
success, and notwithstanding his Swedish 
annuity, some of his plates and moulds had 
to go. He was probably not in comfort- 
able circumstances at the time of his death 
in January 1810, twelve years after leaving 
Rome, but the world of to-day has the satis- 
faction of knowing, now that the money is 
useless to Piranesi and to his son Francesco, 
that the public is willing to pay, for a pair 
of original impressions of certain of the 
father's etchings, as much as would have in 
his lifetime maintained both these men 
decently for perhaps a week. 

It was Giovanni Piranesi who taught folks 
the Poetry of Ruins. For centuries the 
debris of Antique Art in Italy had lain half 
submerged, dismissed from the care of man, 
and abolished from their recollections. In 
company with Winckelmann he helped to 


drag them, as it were, to the light once 
more, and he lent his needle to bring about 
an extension of the knowledge of the 
Beautiful to that heritage of Art which 
the world owned, but had overlooked. 
Folks awoke, recognised, admired, and won- 
dered how blind they and their forefathers 
had been, and proceeded to rediscover 
architecture in Italy. 

The time is now ripe to rediscover the 
neglected Piranesi, and to give him credit 
for what he really deserves. He bore the 
brunt and he is entitled to some of the 
praise. What Horace said of poets is 
equally applicable to the case of etchers. 
The whims of fashion and even taste 
change so rapidly and unreasonably that 
nothing short of real genius can survive. 
But to-day, a century and a half after the 
time when his best work appeared, it is 
possible to adjudge Piranesi worthy of more 
praise than was bestowed on him during his 
lifetime ; while he lived his work had the 


charm of novelty; that has long worn off, 
and notwithstanding change of fashion, his 
best work takes rank as Classic. In calcu- 
lating the exact position of Giovanni 
Piranesi as an artist, and in fixing his place 
as an etcher, so much at least will be con- 
ceded to him. 

But it is unpardonable to make the 
mistake of discussing him simply as an 
artist and an etcher, as a turbulent, intolerant, 
industrious, inspired producer of etchings of 
which the best are of wonderful merit. One 
may smile at his visions, his fancies ; one 
may pour ridicule on his exaggerations, on 
his untruthful renderings of his subjects ; 
one can take account to their full of all 
such abatements ; they were caused by 
imagination, vivid enough, but they were 
not of a kind that could mar his taste and 

It must be remembered that when 
Piranesi dealt with a scene which was 
familiar to him, and to his public, he 


merely employed a rhetorical framework, 
and he tried to drive home his lesson with 
all the eloquence his needle possessed. He 
tried to fascinate the eye and amuse the 
mind, and with that intention permitted 
himself to enliven the details by picturesque 
draughtsmanship, embodying representations 
which were sometimes untrue to the 
original. Did not Livy threaten that he 
would have made Pompey win the battle 
of Pharsalia if the balance of the sentence 
could have been improved by the change ? 
Livy was not talking at random, he was 
only teaching in a figurative but illustrative 
manner the axiom that the paramount duty 
of an artist is to be an artist — in other words, 
the doctrine of Art for Art's sake. Voltaire, 
too, gives permission : he says, " La grace 
en s'exprimant vaut mieux que ce qu'on 
dit.'' Piranesi's needle never dawdled and, 
although from time to time it veered in 
many directions, the Classic was always 
North : he held to force and majesty with 


evident pleasure, there was nothing weak in 
his intentions ; like a famous Master of the 
Rolls, " he might be right, he sometimes 
was ; he might be wrong, that he was more 
often ; but he never doubted." What the 
etcher wanted to say, he said, and with a 
Titanic boldness. Of points and of weakness 
of another kind we can take full reckoning ; 
certain strains in his character can be 
remembered and passed over, for they have 
no real bearing on a calculation made for 
the purpose of arriving at a just appreciation 
of Giovanni Battista Piranesi. 

He began his artistic life at a period 
when the soothing effect of restrained 
statuary failed to obtain recognition, and 
the most beautiful and dignified of ancient 
monuments were regarded heedlessly, or 
carelessly dismissed as " interesting old 
ruins." He started by enabling, and ended 
by compelling, the world to use the epic 
grandeur of those monuments as ideals for 
work, that was, in course of time, to adorn 


the avenues and thoroughfares of the 
capitals of the civilised world. His spirit 
moved happily through life so long as it 
could hold communion with the friends he 
loved, the ancient monuments ; he dreamed 
of them, he discussed them, he exhibited 
their beauties to the world in flashes of 
wonderful light. He said what he had to 
say, he repeated it, and then, for fear that 
his point had not been understood, proceeded 
to illustrate his views in a contradictory 
manner. And so we have the enormous 
number of plates, gems of etching, it is true, 
but perhaps too many of them, too many 
suns in Piranesi's firmament, till we become 
confused and begin to doubt, as did Cowley, 
whether the Milky Way is composed of 
stars, there are so many of them. 

" Men doubt, because they stand so thick i' th' sky, 
If those be stars, which paint the galaxy."^ 

He regarded the gratification of the 

1 Cowley, Ode to Wit, 


aesthetic sense as one of the principal 
functions of his own existence, and, de- 
siring lofty emotions, turned in his search 
for them to noble sources. Thus it was 
that he loved noble effect, and one of the 
results of his work is the delight experi- 
enced nowadays by people who never 
suspect that it is partly due to him that 
they owe the opportunity of taking their 
pleasure in aesthetic ornament. Around 
his work is the indescribable air of intimate 
friendship with the Antique ; he found it 
more difficult to be a modern than an 
ancient, and the result is that there was 
produced a style peculiar to Piranesi, a 
style which is at once decorative and 
classically pure, and no less graceful than 
it is ingenious ; he approached his subject 
with knowledge, and distilled abundant 
treasure which he encased in honest dignity 
and adapted to modern usefulness. 

The public and private architecture of 
recent times has tended towards the Classic 


and early Renaissance styles ; to the draughts- 
man engaged in such work, Piranesi's plates, 
especially those which contain ornamental 
details, with their simple restrained mould- 
ings, their restful but interesting friezes, 
details condensed by the etcher into an 
essence of good taste, are as salt for the 
flavouring of food. The modern draughts- 
man can extract his grains of salt from 
Piranesi, and everything upon which they 
are sprinkled acquires an improved savour 
and becomes more interesting. 

From these etchings of ornamental work 
innumerable ideas may be taken for the 
interior decoration of buildings. Furniture, 
walls, ceilings, friezes, fireplaces, and what 
not, all levy contribution on Piranesi. 

Whether, in the long run. Art really 
profits by such a storehouse, is questionable. 
Does the schoolboy profit by a crib ? 

Such a crib certainly spares the modern 
designer much labour, — he can borrow what- 
ever he may lack, — but it enervates : by 


enabling the draughtsman to give forth 
ideas without effort of thought, it removes 
the stimulant which begets originality. It 
of course helps the designer to produce 
work which will not render him ridiculous, — 
he may indeed attain mediocrity, he will be 
safe from blame, — but the result will not be 
sufficient to earn him much praise. In un- 
skilful hands, too, purple patches are the 
result. Still, as a rule, apart from the 
question of originality, Piranesi's help has 
usually so successful an effect that we can 
afford to overlook the work in which 
Piranesi is ill-treated. And besides, few 
minds are capable of originality : the ability 
to originate a design which is interesting is 
even more rarely met with, and how seldom 
is given that power to produce a scheme 
not only original but interesting, which is 
allied with the ability to express it delicately 
and to practical purpose. 

Is it not, therefore, preferable, on the 
whole, that the would-be designer should 


content himself with borrowing, and even 
mangling, an idea taken from Piranesi's 
records, than that he should be compelled to 
strive for the originality which, in many- 
cases, gives birth to the abortions that from 
time to time horrify the eye and delight the 
popular press ? 

The science of Hypothetics is not a fruit- 
ful one ; but people have often amused 
themselves by speculating on the probable 
consequence of events which have not 
happened, or in imagining events to have 
happened in a manner different from that 
which has been actually the case. They 
will draw deductions from the imaginary 
premise that Eude's daughter had not 
married the Emir, or that Livy's hypo- 
thetical invasion of Italy by Alexander had 
actually taken place. In a similar way a 
student of Art might fashion a nightmare 
by imagining the appearance of the interiors 
of most British homes to-day had Giovanni 
Piranesi's birth and work been deferred fifty 



years. Piranesi was one of those fortunate 
men who have appeared at the juncture 
when their skill and individuality afford the 
greatest service. The date at which his 
peculiar abilities became available caused the 
production of his etchings to affect vitally, 
not only Chambers, but Chippendale, Adam, 
Sheraton, and many other of the English 
furniture designers. 

From the middle of the eighteenth century 
till now, although there have been, in that 
time, periods during which spurious sensi- 
bility, expressed by architecture in particular 
and by form in general, has self-consciously 
thrust itself forward only to be betrayed by 
its awkwardness and vulgarity, design influ- 
enced by Piranesi as applied to the treat- 
ment of English buildings, public no less 
than private, has undergone a change, the 
effect of which can be seen on all sides, to 
be remarked with increasing distinctness in 
buildings of recent date. It must, however, 
be borne in mind that, although following 


the usual custom Piranesi called himself 
an architect, he knew little of construction 
or calculation, and less of the methods 
of carrying actual work into execution. 
The making of working plans was out 
of his province, and he rarely addressed 
himself to that portion of the architect's 
profession. Execution with the needle he 
excelled in, but his genius was for design. 
An absence of prettiness from most of his 
work indicates the prevailing emotions that 
governed his technique. The austerity of 
his taste tells its tale of profound passion and 
of the man struggling with the problem of 
personal existence. Towards the close of 
his life, when he had won through the 
struggle, prosperity of sorts, bringing with 
it a desire to please, weakened a high-strung 
energy, and he indulged a hitherto sup- 
pressed quality of prettiness ; yet even then, 
whenever he was etching in a fortunate 
moment, prettiness rose to beauty itself. 
Piranesi's etchings are the sole records of 


his character, and are all that exists to indi- 
cate his qualities. By them his life may be 
analysed. They show that he possessed 
ability of a first-class order, and taste of the 
purest kind entirely devoid of pettiness ; his 
work is marked with poetry and dignified 
sentiment, sensuality is entirely absent from 
it. From his etchings we can also see we 
have to deal with a man of nimble brain, 
quick to make a statement, intolerant of 
the views of others, morbidly sensitive to 
criticism, ready to elevate his personal 
opinion into a dogma, garrulous in his 
work, the victim of a temperament mainly 
composed of exaltation and depression. In 
his treatise on the Laocoon Lessing contrasts 
the stoical demeanour of Northern peoples 
with the exuberance of feeling common 
among the Greeks and Romans. Philoctetes 
shrieks with the smart of his wound, and 
Achilles rolls in the sand overcome with 
grief. There was in Piranesi that same 
lack of self-restraint which has descended to 


the modern inhabitants of Southern Europe. 
Extravagances in style, extravagances in 
ideas, can be detected in much of his work, 
but with the exception of the chimney- 
pieces not extravagances in taste. The judg- 
ment of taste, which is supposed to come 
late to servants at the altar of Literature, was 
mature at an early stage in Piranesi's life. 

It is too often forgotten that in Art 
everything depends upon the taste of the 
craftsman. To him taste is more vital than 
ability and industry. Should the cunning 
worker, though master of the technical 
portion of his art, be lacking in taste, he is 
a failure as an artist. Try Piranesi's etch- 
ings on the touchstone of taste, and the 
mark left shows no base alloy. Had he not 
possessed that supreme quality, one shudders 
to think how mischievous would have been 
Piranesi's work and teaching, and how 
deplorable would have been his influence 
had his dexterous needle been wielded to 
express vulgar ideals. His industry could 


not be excelled, and his craftsmanship was 
assisted by the strength of conviction that 
he had a mission. Skill could have gone 
no farther. 

He summed up the results of the etcher's 
craft and carried them to a point beyond 
which they have not been improved. The 
enthusiasm he felt for what he saw and 
what he imagined took the form of an ex- 
altation of happiness ; he was ravished with 
the calm beauty with which his perceptions 
were illuminated. The delight he took in 
his work was moreover animated by a con- 
scientiousness, marked with a deep and 
genuine contempt for those who dared to 
question the supreme excellence of the 
Roman architecture which provided sub- 
jects for his pencil. 

A sense of humour was wanting in 
Piranesi's equipment, though the incongru- 
ous appealed to him. Of subtlety he had 
none : the natural, " the exquisite natural,'' 
as Joubert defines it, was his weapon. If 


he departed from the natural, it was for 
the purpose of pleasing and explaining, 
and when simplicity alone would not be 
beautiful. He made no attempt to hide 
the departure ; he, like Joubert, " merely 
passed through the clouds in order to mount 
the skies/' Endowed with strong views, 
great bodily energy, eager to produce the 
best in his power, he never paused to con- 
sider his personal dignity when doing what 
he thought was right. It was against his 
nature to attempt to lead, his method was 
to impose. Neither did he fear to run the 
risk of appearing ridiculous by that readiness 
for disputation which, under other or 
ordinary circumstances, would have been 
scarcely excusable. But, in a state of affairs 
where it was necessary to make a stir in order 
to gain attention to the subject in which he, 
almost single-handed, had taken the initia- 
tive, the quarrels of the argumentative 
Piranesi must not be made to count for too 
much in an estimate of the character of the 


man. They are understandable, and perhaps 
pardonable. He merely perceived instinct- 
ively that unless opinions are set forth in 
an offensive manner the indolent world 
usually fails to notice them, and he acted on 
the theory that people would not bother 
themselves about a subject unless he began 
by making it bother them. 

Architectural etching has culminated 
with him. His successors are all able to 
reproduce in a way, and more or less, his 
characteristics. They have, up to the 
present, however, suggested no improvement 
or further development of the art as he 
left it. 

The massive simplicity conveyed by his 
work, his peculiar power of expressing 
with directness the salient points of his 
subject, render plain to the student that 
Nobleness which it was the etcher's aim to 

His genius stamped the art of etching 
with a distinction which etching, as an 


Art in connection with Architecture, had 
never possessed before. An impetuous 
enthusiasm thus equipped endowed his 
work with an eloquence which prompts a 
feeling that it was an inspired hand that 
guided his needle. 

Piranesi's work conveys the same im- 
pression to the eye the least acquainted 
with fine architecture as to the mind filled 
with practical knowledge of technical Art. 
To each, the impression is of a beautiful 
subject, composed with perfect taste, and 
represented in such a manner that it is of 
the highest interest. So fine is the etching 
that the needle seems to have worked with- 
out effort. Indeed it is so, for Piranesi's 
work was the reflex of his feelings — his 
hand was almost unconscious of what it 
did. The result, so far as opportunity 
afforded, was that the gift of consummate 
skill given him by Nature was exercised in 
its utmost capacity. And notwithstanding 
all this, Piranesi never had his fair chance 

1 86 

of showing his highest and unfettered 

It remains only to wonder whether the 
early struggle for a livelihood through 
which he worked, whether the restrictions 
imposed by the lack of adequate means in 
the first years of his married life, acted as 
a clog upon Piranesi. 

Would fuller power and opportunity to 
spread his wings, and to give free play 
to his imagination and skill, have enabled 
him to realise himself in some permanent 
masterpiece of architecture ? With oppor- 
tunity and encouragement could he, under 
improved circumstances, have put forth 
ideas which, when turned into stone and 
metal, would have produced a result such 
as would have made his reputation more 
widely known and more lasting ? 

The same thought and some remorse 
are experienced in regarding the lives of 
other men who were almost his contem- 
poraries. We, for example, recall Burns, a 


pauper but for Lord Dundas's ^70 a year ; 
then Beethoven. Porson might have pro- 
duced we know not what, had he been 
encouraged and relieved ; though he now 
lies at the foot of Newton's statue, he was, 
during his lifetime, and while at work, 
driven to fall back on an income of under 
jTa a week, contributed by friends as a 
protest against the treatment he had received 
from other quarters. Then there is Field- 
ing denied help to the extent that a 
pawnable coat was his best friend. And 
Thackeray said that Fielding's name has 
been written, as it were, on the dome 
of St. Peter's, for Gibbon declared that 
" the romance of Tom Jones^ that ex- 
quisite picture of human manners, will 
outlive the palace of the Escurial and the 
imperial eagle of the House of Austria." 
Johnson received a pension from Bute, it is 
true, but though it saved him from writs it 
came twenty-five years too late to be really 
effective, and it is well to recall that Johnson 


had been enjoying the assistance of the 
pension ahxady for seventeen years before his 
best work, The Lives of the Poets ^ appeared ; 
and it was only his own undaunted courage 
and perseverance which had till then en- 
abled him to maintain himself, pursue his 
labours, and produce fine work at a wage 
less affluent than a fish-hawker could have 
earned. If it be argued that all master- 
pieces have been born in poverty there are 
Dante, Chaucer, Michelangelo, Tintoret, 
Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, and Goethe, 
to prove the contrary. Nor have many 
masterpieces been produced by men of great 
wealth ; for riches enervate as much as ex- 
treme poverty paralyses. Difficulties form 
the finest stone out of which character may 
be hewn and penury goes far to spur a man. 
But penury damps his spirit by clogging 
his powers, and the energy and force of 
character sufficient to assist a man to win 
that position wherein he may be able to 
realise himself are not always those qualities 


which are the companions of genius. The 
kindly hand, therefore, which will ward 
off grinding want is the good fortune 
we should desire for the development of 

When we look over the roll of the 
splendid company of men whose wants and 
distresses might have been lessened and 
whose opportunities might have been in- 
creased, we wonder what greater monu- 
ments of their genius might have been 
added to the adornment of Literature and 
Art had we but appreciated their work 
in time, and had we been ready to afford 
them the means and occasion to produce 
that which they knew was within them. 

Surely there must be good reason for 
suspecting that something is continually 
being lost to us by our inopportune callous- 
ness and blindness. Do we not often regret 
that genius is recognised only when it is 
too late for friendly help to be of avail ? 
But will the world take a lesson ? Has 


it a memory ? Can it learn to recognise 
the sparkle of a gem before it has been 
appraised in the money market ? Why 
should the word " modern '* act as a curse 
upon fine work ? and why should the word 
" genius '* be interpreted as " the skill 
of dead men " ? The skill of the dead 
receives the high monetary quotation, and 
it is the traffic in it which discourages 
the advancement of Art. 

Brave men there were before Aga- 
memnon's day, and there were also brave 
men after him. So with Art. Genius has 
lived in days gone, it will live again, and 
indeed it is always with us. And when 
to-morrow perhaps a man of genius tries 
to struggle to the light, will the world 
detect the sparkle and remember its regret, 
that in similar cases in the past help had 
not been given ? Will it take genius, while 
still alive, by the hand ? or will it stupidly 
miss its chance once more, and wait a 
generation, till fashion has created recogni- 


tion, and until a dead craftsman's work 
has at last attained commercial worth, 
based on its own excellence, or has become 
popular as a gambling counter ? And a 
gambling counter it often is, for fewer 
works of Art are eagerly sought for by 
the collector on the ground of merit than 
are bought in semi-conscious hope or ex- 
pectation that they may eventually prove 
a satisfactory speculation. _ And will the 
world never see that the masterpieces of 
the past, now possessing an enhanced 
value, due solely to their greater or less 
age, were once entitled to the description 
which blights the work of living men, 

To all this, any craftsman at any time 
will always make the same reply. It will 
always be the same, notwithstanding all 
that has been, and will be said. The 
Beautiful is a sealed book to most, and 
those who can read at all are too few and 
too weak to make their voices heard. 


Their efforts are almost entirely ineffectual, 
and especially when confronted with the 
chatter of fashion or false sentimentality, 
and they resign themselves to the inevitable 
without vexation, and acquiesce in a con- 
dition of things which has existed so long 
that it apparently cannot be remedied. 

Schopenhauer understood the position 
when he reminded us that the wise men 
of all times said the same, and the fools — 
that is, the immense majority of all times 
— have always done the same — that is to say, 
the opposite of what the wise have said. 
Consequently, to be vexed with human 
stupidity, and to expect less perversity in 
the recognition, at the critical moment, 
of the Beautiful in Art, is, in itself, an 
extreme form of stupidity. The lesson that 
has to be accepted is, that it is hopeless to 
expect that real merit will ever receive, 
when it needs it, that to which it is en- 
titled, and that genius, while assistance is 
of value, will be helped to reach the point 


which genius unassisted could not attain. 
Those who possess power to render that 
assistance have as a rule so little of the 
correct critical faculty that they are driven 
to make market price the basis of their 
taste and admiration. The higher the 
quotation the more eager is their desire 
to shower gold. The existing and veritable 
work of a dead man does not increase, its 
price therefore rises with demand. The 
attention attracted by price to the work 
of the dead masters, fine though it may be, 
and that is not disputed, does harm to Art, 
and to living men, who may even in turn 
become old masters ; for it indirectly pours 
contempt on living men, discourages their 
efforts, and stamps their genius as being 
incapable of producing work to reach that 
standard which is the measure of the 
Beautiful and the True. 



In addition to the standard Works of reference, 
Encyclopaedias, Dictionaries, and Biographies, the 
following authorities have been consulted : — 

Architectural Publication Society's Diction- 
ary, 1853-92. 

Armstrong, Sir Walter, Art in Great Britain 
and Scotland, 1909. 

Arnold's Library of the Fine Arts, 1831. 

Biagi, Pietro, Sull' incisione e suF Piranesi, 

Bianconi, Giovanni Lodovico : Opere, 1802. 

Birrell, Augustine, Res Judicat^e. 

Blomfield, Prof. Reginald, Studies in Archi- 
tecture, 1905. 

Brush and Painter, vol. x., Woodworth's 
article on Piranesi. 

Chambers, Sir William, Treatise on Civil 
Architecture, 1825. 

Charteris, Hon. Evan Edward, A Short Ac- 
count of the Affairs of Scotland, 1745-6. 



Corbeille, L. A., articles in "The Dome," 
January 1898, January 1899. 

Dallaway, J., Anecdotes of the Arts of Eng- 
land, 1800. 

Draper, Prof., The Conflict between Religion 
and Science. 

Escott, T. H. S., article in Belgravia Maga- 
zine, 1869. 

Geffroy, A., Papiers inedits de F. Piranesi a 
I'archive royale au musee et a la biblio- 
theque de Stockholm. 

Gerard, Frances, Angelica KauiFmann. 

Gori, Gandellini, Notizie istoriche degli in- 
tagliatori, 18 14. 

Hardy, Francis, Memoirs of the Political and 
Private Life of J. Caulfield, Earl of Charle- 
mont, 1 8 10. 

Hind, A. W., A Short History of Engraving 
and Etching, 1908. 

Larousse, Encyclopaedie, 1874. 

Macmillan's Magazine, vol. Ixii. 

Macquoid, Percy, A History of English 

Furniture, 1904-8. 
Marot, David, (Euvres d'ornement, 1650-- 



Michaud, Biographic Universelle, vol. xxxiii. 
Monnier, Philippe, Venice in the Eighteenth 

Nagler, Kiinstler-Lexikon, 1841. 

Piranesi, Francesco, Lettera . . . al Signor 
Generale Giovanni Acton (relating to his 
dealings with the Swedish Envoy at Naples, 
G. M. von Armfelt). 

Piranesi, G. B., Letter to Lord Charlemont in 
Le Antichita Romane. 

Piranesi, Les CEuvres des Chevaliers Jean 
Baptiste et Frangois Piranesi, 1792. 

Piranesi, Calcographie des Piranesi Freres. 
(Euvres de Jean Baptiste et de Frangois 
Piranesi qui se vendent chez les Auteurs, 
a Paris, rue de T University, D^pot des 
Machines, No. 296. An VIIL de la 
Republique (1801). 

Piranesi's engraved Catalogue, 1761. 

Repository of Arts, 1 8 1 2. 

Sandys, J. E., History of Classical Scholar- 
ship, 1903. 

Smith, J. T., Nollekens and his Times. 

Sturgis, Russell, The Etchings of Piranesi, 

Sturgis, Russell, Dictionary of Architecture, 

Swarbrick, John, Life, Work, and Influence of 
Robert Adam and his Brothers. 


Tipaldo, Emilio di, Biografia degli Italian! 

illustri, Venice, 1834-35. 
Ticozzi, S., Dizionario degli Architetti, 1832. 

Varietes Litteraires, Paris, 1804, containing 

Mariette's letter. 
Venuti (Ridolfino), Accurata e succinta des- 

crizione topografica e istorica di Roma 

moderna, 2 vols. 4to, 1766. 

Walpole, Horace, Anecdotes of Painting in 

Young, William, Roman Architecture, Sculp- 
ture, and Ornament. 


It is not intended to give a collation of the 
reprints issued in Paris, as they are unsatisfactory 
from a collector's point of view. 

As far as possible the notes are arranged in 
the order of date of the publication of the earliest 
complete editions. 

Except where otherwise stated the plates are 
engraved by G. B. Piranesi. 

Antichita Romane de' Tempi della Repubblica 

e de' primi Imperatori, etc. (Archi Trion- 

fali Antichi, Templi, etc.). Rome, 1748. 

I title, I dedication, 2 inscriptions, and 29 

plates. A title to the second part* follows 

plate 1 5, and is not numbered. 

A reprint of the plates in the above 

appeared under the following title : — 

Alcune Vedute di Archi Trionfali ed altri 

Monumenti inalzati da Romani parte de 



quali si veggono in Roma e parte per 
ritalia. Rome, 1748. 

This has two extra plates, one at the 

commencement and one at the end. The 

first is presumably by Francesco, and 

the last is signed by him. The border 

to the title is the same, but the borders to 

the dedication and two inscriptions in the 

"Antichita" have been omitted in the 

" Alcune Vedute." 

Opere Varie di Architettura Prospettive 

Grotteschi Antichita sul gusto degli Antichi 

Romani. Rome, Bouchard, 1750. 

The second plate forms another title. 
Prima Parte di Architettura e Prospettive. 
This work sometimes has the portrait of 
Piranesi by E. Polanzani, "faciebat 1750." 
As mentioned on p. 16, four of the 
plates of this work were published separ- 
ately about 1741, and are the earliest 
published plates of Piranesi. 
Le Carceri d'Invenzione. 

14 plates. Rome, Bouchard, 1750. 
16 plates. Rome, 1750. 

As mentioned on p. 109, the 14 plates 
show that they were considerably worked 
upon before being re-issued as part of 
the 16. 


Piranesi's letterpress catalogue says, 
"planches faites, 1742." [See Biblio- 
graphy, p. 196.] 
Vedute di Roma. 2 vols. 

Vol. 1. Map, title, and 69 plates. 
Vol. II. 68 plates, with allegorical plate 
usually inserted as title. 

The Soane Museum copy has 2 interiors 
of St. Peter's engraved by Francesco which 
are not part of the "Vedute." 

In 1 75 1, 34 plates and the engraved 
"Vedute" title-page were published by 
Bouchard with the title " Le Magnific- 
enze di Roma le piu remarcabili." This 
contains the allegorical plate described 

Piranesi's first engraved catalogue in the 
possession of the publisher, and reproduced 
in this work (see Plate 3), gives an en- 
graved list of 60 plates, with further lines 
giving the names of 3 more in manuscript 
(presumably in Piranesi's own handwrit- 
ing), and bears date May 1761. 
Raccolta di Varie Vedute. Rome, Bouchard, 

93 small views on 46 plates (one being on 
the letterpress title). 

Only 47 of these views are by Piranesi. 


Trofei di Ottaviano Augusto con vari altri 
Ornamenti Antichi. Rome, Bouchard, 1753. 
Letterpress title with small engraving and 
9 plates. 

1758. Engraved title (including small 
engraving as above) and 15 plates. 

In the second edition the new plates are 
numbered 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9. 
Le Antichita Romane. 4 vols. 

1756. 216 plates = vol. i. 43; ii. 6^ ; 
ii. 54 ; iv. 56. 

1786. 218 plates = vol. i. 44; ii. 6^ ; 
iii. 54 ; iv. 57. 

The 1758 edition is often quoted as 
having 224 plates, this being due to the 
addition of the six " Monumenti degli 
Scipioni " in some copies. 

The earlier copies of the four volumes 
issued in 1756 contained dedications to 
"Jacopo Caulfield Vicecomiti Charlemont.'' 
But for the reasons explained on p. 76 et seq. 
his name was suppressed in favour of that 
of Robert Adam. Thus copies containing 
the dedication to Lord Charlemont are rare. 
The second edition, issued by Francesco 
in 1786 after his father's death, has dedi- 
cations to Gustavus III. of Sweden. 

The first edition contains the portrait 


of Piranesi by Polanzani, but in the 
second this is replaced by that by Guisseppe 
Cades, reproduced as a frontispiece to this 
Camere Sepolchrae degli Antichi Romani. 
Engraved title and 13 plates. 

This work was formed from a collection 
of plates out of the second and third 
volumes of the "Antichita Romane," the 
descriptions on some of the plates having 
been slightly altered. 
Lettere di Giustificazione scritte a Milord 

Charlemont. 1757. 8 plates. 
De Romanorum Magnificentia et Architec- 
tura. (Delia Magnificenza ed Architettura 
de' Romani.) Rome, 1760. 

Latin title, Italian title, portrait of Clement 
XIII., plates i. to xxxviii. Four of these 
(namely, xvii., xviii., xix., and xxx.) are 
ordinary plates joined together, making 4. 
Le Rovine del Castello deU'Acqua Giulia. 
Rome, 1 76 1. 

Engraved title and 19 plates. 

It is often difficult to make the colla- 
tions agree ; in this case, for example, the 
copies at the British and Soane Museums 
have title and 19 plates, but the engraved 
catalogue of Piranesi's works issued by 


himself says 21 plates and the catalogue 
of his sons, dated 1792, says 20. 
Antichita de Cora. Rome, 1762. 

Engraved title, one plate unnumbered, and 
plates i. to x. (plate i being two sheets joined 
Campus Martius Antiquae Urbis. (II Campo 
Marzio delFAntica Roma.) Rome, 1762. 

Latin title, Italian title, and 48 plates. 
Of these plates Nos. ii. and xxxi. are formed 
by 2 plates being pasted together, and plates 
V. to X., dedicated to Robert Adam, when 
joined together form one large plan of the 
Campus Martius. 
Lapides Capitolini sive Fasti Consulares 
Triumphalesque Romanorum. Rome, 1762. 
Engraved title, dedication to Clement xiii., 
and 3 plates. 
Antichita d'Albano c di Castel Gandolfo. 
Rome, 1764. 

Engraved title, dedication to Clement xiii. 
and plates i. to xxvi. 
Descrizione e disegno dell' Emissario del Lago 

Engraved title and plates i. to ix., plate iii. 
being two plates joined together. 
Di Due Spelonche ornati dagli Antichi alia 
Riva del Lago Albano. 


Letterpress title with small engraving, and 
plates i. to xii., plate viii. being two plates 
joined together. 
Osservazioni di G. B. Piranesi sopra la 
Lettre de M. Mariette aux auteurs de la 
Gazette IJtt<§raire de I'Europe. Rome, 

Engraved title and plates i. to ix. 

This is usually found bound at the end 
of "De Romanorum Magnificentia et 
Parere su I'Architettura. No plates. 

This is often mentioned as being a 

separate work by Piranesi, but it is actually 

part of the above, the pages being numbered 


Delia Introduzione e del progresso delle belle 

Arti in Europa ne' Tempi Antichi. Rome, 

1765. 3 plates. 

The note about the Parere again applies 
in this case, the pages numbering on from 
those of the Parere. 
A View of Part of the Intended Bridge at 
Blackfriars, London, in August 1764, by 
Robert Mylne, architect, engraved by G. B. 
Piranesi at Rome. 
The last plate, an Allegorical Composition en- 
graved by Charpentier, of the French edition 


of Jacques Barozzio de Vignole, published in 
1767. A rare volume with beautiful plates 
of Decoration, usually known as Blondel's 
A View of St. Peter's, Rome, engraved by 
Charpentier, is also to be found in this 
edition of Jacques Barozzio de Vignole, 

Diverse Maniere d'Adornare i Cammini ed 

ogni altra parte degli edifizi, desunte delF 
Architettura Egizia e Etrusca, Greca, e 
Romana. Rome, 1769. 
Frontispiece and 69 plates. 

The text is in Italian, English and 
Colonna di Trajano. Rome, 1776. 

21 plates. 
Colonna Antonina. Undated. 

5 plates. 
Colonna delF Apoteosi di Antonino Pio. Un- 
dated. 5 plates. 
Vasi Candelabri Cippi Sarcofagi Tripodi 
Lucerne ed ornamenti Antichi. Rome, 1778. 
1 1 2 plates. 
Differentes vues de quelques restes des trois 
Grandes Edifices de Pesto dans la Lucanie. 

Engraved title and 20 plates. 3 of these 
plates are signed, " Francesco Piranesi "; the 


remaining 1 7 are signed, Cav. Piranesi. This 
presumably means that these 17 plates were 
drawn and engraved by the son, but the 
author's views appear on p. 163. 
Teatro di Ercolano. Rome, 1783. 

Engraved title and 9 plates. [Francesco 
Monumenti degli Scipioni. Rome, 1785. 

6 plates. {Francesco Tiranesi.) 
Raccolta de' Tempi Antichi (Sciographia 
Quatuor Templorum Veterum.) Prima Parte 
che comprehende i tempi di Vesta-madre 
ossia della Terra della Sibilla, e dell'onore 
e delle Vertu. Rome, 1776. 

Engraved title and 22 plates. {Francesco 
Seconda Parte de' Tempi Antichi che contiene 
il celebre Panteon. Rome, 1 790. 

Letterpress title with small engraving and 
29 plates. {Francesco Tiranesi.) 

In many copies plates i., vii. to ix., and 
xxix. are wanting, presumably due to 
these not having been issued in the 
earlier copies. 
Statue Antiche. 

41 plates. {Francesco Tiranesi.) 

Piranesi's letterpress catalogue (see 
Bibliography, p. 196) gives a list of 


52 plates, but only 32 are marked with an 
asterisk as having then appeared. Prob- 
ably therefore the 1 1 plates in addition 
to the 41 mentioned above were never 
published. The engraving of Angelini's 
statue of G. B. Piranesi is found in this 
work. (Francesco Piranesi.) 
Varie tabulae celeberrimorum Pictorum Rac- 
colta di Alcuni Disegni del Barbed da 
Cento detto il Guercino incisi in rame e 
presentati al Sig. T. Jenkins dall' Architetto. 
G. B. Piranesi. 

With 2 plates engraved by Francesco and 
dedicated to his father, "Apud Equitem 
Johannem Baptistem Piranesi." 
Antiquites de la Grande Grece aujourd'hui 
Royaume de Naples . . . gravees. par F. 
Piranesi d'apres les dessins du pere, J. B. 
Piranesi. Paris, 1804-7. 
105 plates. 3 vols. 
In the letterpress catalogue issued in 1801 
the following are quoted as being "DifFerentes 
vues dessinnees par Despres et gravees, par 
Frangois Piranesi " : — 

Illumination de la Croix de S. Pierre le jeudi 

et le vendredi saints, vue d'en haut. 
Chapelle Pauline illuminee. 
Chateau S. Ange au moment que Ton tire 


le feu d'artifice dit la Girandola vu d'en 

Grotte de Posilippe, vue d'en haut, d'un efFet 

Plan general de la Villa de Pompeia, Temple 
d'Isis vu de face. 1788. 

Entree de la Porte de la Ville. 

Tombeau de Mammia. 

Cloitre des Chartreux dans les Thermes de 
Diocletien avec la vue au meillieu du grouppe 
des quatre Cipres au clair de lune, peint par 
Frangois Sablet, et grave par Francois. 

Deux Bacchantes trouvees dans les ruines de 
la Ville de Pompeia. On les voit dans le 
Musee Royal k Portico. 

Dimentions geometriques du plan et eleva- 
tion de Temissaire du Lac Fucino, acheve 
par TEmpereur Claude. Dessine par J. 
Baptiste et acheve par Frangois. En 2 
6 plates. 

Plan de la Villa Adrienne, ou d'on voit les 
ruines des Edifices que TEmpereur avait 
construits dans le style des batimens les plus 
remarquables de la Grece et d'Egypte. 
En 6 feuilles. 
3 plates. 


Vue de la Grande Place de Padoue. En 

3 feuilles. 
Plan du Palais de Sans Souci. 
Cinq difFerentes Bordures pour ornament des 

Plan du Cirque de Caracalla. En 2 feuilles. 

The following are included in the catalogue 
issued in 1792 as being in preparation ("qu'on 
grave actuellement "), but there is no evidence 
that they ever appeared : — 

Statues des plus celebres Sculptures de nos 

Choix des Meilleures Bas-Reliefs, Antiques 

en — planches. 
Vues des Maisons de Campagne ou Villes de 
Rome, de Frascati, de Tivoli. 


Academy, Royal, 49. 

Achilles, 180. 

Adam, Robert, 44, 45, 47, 49, 

55, 57, 59, 67, 69,88, 123, 

Addison, 100. 
^.milia. Basilica, 10. 
Alberico, The Vision of, 18. 
Albrizzi, 140. 
America, classic form of 

Architecture popular in, 

132, 133- 
Ancona, 17. 
Angelini, 33, 127. 
Antiquaries, Society of, 49, 

Antologia Romana, 23. 
Antonini, 15. 

Antoninus, Pius, Villa of, 153. 
Appian Way, 152. 
Arcadi, Academy of, in. 
Arch, early examples of the, 

Armfelt, Count Gustav, 161. 
Augustus of Saxony, 1 56. 
Aylesford, Earl of, 124. 


Bacon, 51. 

Bank of England, 122. 

Banks, 52. 

Barbault, Jean, 30. 

Baroc, 53, 105. 

Bartolozzi, 47, 66. 

Batsford, Herbert, no. 

Beauclerk, Aubrey, 91. 

Beckford, W., 91, 138. 

Bellotto, 136. 

Benedict xiv., Pope, 17, 20. 

Bentley, 126. 

Berain, 105. 

Bernini, 118. 

Biagi, 6. 

Bianconi, 23, 34, 157, 163. 

Blackfriars Bridge, 113. 

Blomfield, Professor, in. 

Boswell, 87. 

Bottari, 17, 23, 35, 75- 

Bouchard, 17, 40, 74, 75, 

Bourbon, Constable of, 27. 
Boydell, 166. 
Boyle, 51. 
Brandt, 48. 


British Museum, 29, 40, 124, 

125, 145, 149.^ 
Buonamini, Antonio, 31. 
Burghley House, 67. 
Burke, 87. 
Burns, Robert, 186. 
Bute, Lord, 187. 

Cades, Guisseppe, 32. 

Cagnolo, Monte, 153. 

Callot, 21. 

Campagna, 4, 27. 

Canaletto, 136. 

Canova, 34. 

Capitol, 27. 

Carmarthen, Lord, 91. 

Casanova, 137, 140. 

Catherine 11., 156. 

Caulfield, James, 76. See 

Cellini, Benvenuto, 6, 37. 
Ceracchi, 48. 
Ceulen, Janssen Van, 53. 
Chambers, Sir William, 46, 59, 

76, 88, 178. 
Charlemont, Earl of, 76, 78, 88. 
Chaucer, 188. 
Chigi, Cardinal, 152. 
Chippendale, Thomas, 59, 60, 

61,71, 75, 178. 
Choupy, Martin, 1 16. 
Cibber, Colley, 54. 
Cipriani, 48. 

Clement xill., Pope, 35, 96. 
Clement xiv., Pope, 145, 160. 
Clerisseau, 46, 47, 88, 123. 
Cloaca, Rome, 11. 

Clouston, R. S., 7I5 75- 
Codrus and the Centaur, 20. 
Coke, Thos., 144. 
Coleridge, 104. 
Colosseum, 4, 27, 148. 
Conservatori, Palace of the. 

Contucci, 23. 
Cooper, 53. 

Corraghi, Francesca, 2. 
Corsini, Prince, 36. 
Cotman, J. S., 56. 
Cowley, loi, 172. 
Crome, 56. 
Crotona, 15. 
Curia Hostilia, 10. 
Curia Julia, 10. 
Curzon, Penn Assheton, 91. 


Dallaway, 149. 

Dalmatia, 46, 49, 90. 

Dance, in, 121. 

Dante, 18, 188. 

Derby, Lord, 49. 

Didot, Firmin, 98. 

Dilettanti Society, 76. 

Diocletian, Palace of, 47, 90. 

D'Israeli, Isaac, 18. 

Dore, Gustave, 114. 

Doria Pamphili, Palazza, 17. 

Doric temples and cities, 15, 

Dundas, 60, 68, 187. 

Egremont, Lord, 144. 
Elgin Marbles, 152. 


Escurial, 187. 

d'Este Alessandro, 34. 

„ Villa, 5, 148. 
Etruscan Architecture, 8, 14, 

15, 129. 
Exeter, Marquis of, 91. 

Ferdinand iv. of Naples, 156. 
Fielding, Henry, 187. 
Flaxman, John, R.A., 31, 52, 

Forum, Rome, 26, 36. 


Gallienus, Villa of, 152. 
Gellee, 4. 
Geoffroy, 147. 
Gibbon, 88, 137, 187. 
Gibbons, Grinling, 53. 
Goday, Don M. de, 126. 
Goethe, 5,47, 78,95, 138, 142, 

151, 188. 
Goldoni, 37. 
Goths, 27. 
Grasme, 90. 
Grattan, Henry, 76. 
Grenville, George, 91. 
Guardi, 136. 
Guiscard, 27. 
Gustavus III,, of Sweden, 13, 

I39> 156, 157, 167. 
Gustavus Adophus ix., 161. 


Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, 13, 

14, 66, 149. 
H alley, 51. 

Hamilton, Lady Betty, 49. 
Hamilton, Gavin, 91, 146, 151, 

Hampton Court, 106. 
Herculaneum, 12, 163. 
Hare wood. Lord, 'Ji- 
Hind, A. M., 56. 
Hogarth, 52. 
Holbein, 51, 53. 
Holland, Lady, 162. 
Hope, Henry, 91. 
Hope, W. H. St. John, 70. 
Horace, 18, 169. 


Istria, Pola in, 17. 


Jenkins, Thos., 91, 145,146,156. 
Johnson, Dr., 76, 87, 187. 
Jonson, Cornelius, 53. 
Joseph II., Emperor, 139. 
Joubert, 182. 
Juvenal, 20. 


Kauffmann, Angelica, 47, 48. 
Kneller, 53. 
Knight, Payne, 152. 

Laguerre, 53. 
Lanciani, Professor, 34. 
Lansdowne House, 145, 150, 

Laocoon, 180, 
Lely, 53. 
Lepautre, 105. 


Lessing, 142, 180. 
Lincoln, Lord, 91, 144. 
Livy, 171, 177- 
Lock, 59. 
Lockhart, i. 
Locri, 15. 
Lolli family, 149. 
Lombards, 27. 
Longhi, 136, 140. 
Lorrain, Claude de, 4. 
Louvre, The, 156. 
Lucchesi, 2. 


Macaulay, 51, 92. 
Macquoid, Percy, 68. 
Machiavelii, 28. 
Maecenas, 148. 
Marieschi, 136. 
Mariette, 8. 
Marot, 105. 
Mascati, 2. 
Mattel Villa, 148. 
Menzies, 124. 
Michaud, i, 164. 
Michelangelo, 188. 
Milton, 19, 188. 
Moliere, 45. 
Monnier, 37, 135, 139. 
Monsagrati, 43. 
Montalto, Cardinal, 147. 
Morris, 92. 
Mozart, 140. 
Mylne, 113. 

Naples, '12. 
Neptune, Temple of, 14, 130. 

Nero, II. 

Newgate Prison, iii, 121. 

Newton, 51, 54, 187. 

Nollekens, 52, 148. 

Normans, 27. 

Norwich School of Painting, 

Nostell Priory, j^f- 

Psestum, 9, 12, 32, 123, 128. 
Palladio, 14, 32. 
Palmerston, Lord, 91. 
Pannini, 4, 25, 39. 
Pantanello, 149. 
Pantheon, The, 28, 132, 163. 
Parker, 76, 78. 
Pasquali, 140. 
Pastorini, 47. 
Paul, The Czar, 139. 
Pergolesi, 47, 65, 67. 
"Periwig and Pigtail," 63. 
Petty, 51. 
Petworth, 145. 
Philoctetus, 180. 
Pio-Clementine Musee, 152, 

Piranesi's — 

birth, I. 

burial place, 33. 

courtship, 36. 

copious output, 5. 

daughter Laura, 32. 

dedication of Antichitct 
Romane to Charlemont, 

dreams, 106. 

earnings, 41. 


Piranesi's — 

election to Society of Anti- 
quaries, 70. 

English and Scottish 
admirers, 91. 

journey to Naples, 12. 

journey to Rome, 4. 

habit of working out of 
doors, 1 19. 

influence on furniture 
design, 59 to 68, 71. 

instructors, 4. 

knighthood, 7. 

models, 21. 

pupils, 30. 

quarrel with Charlemont, 79. 

return to Rome, 16, 17. 

son Francesco, 13, 18, 32, 
123, 132, 156, 158, 164. 

son Pietro, 32. 
Piroli, 31. 
Pisani, 139, 140. 
Pitt Bridge, The, 113. 
Pius VI., Pope, 160. 
Poe, E. Allan, 115. 
Pola, 17. 
Polanzani, 12. 
Pompeii, 12. 
Ponte, D. A., 140. 
Porson, 187. 

Pretender, The Old, 141. 
Pretender, The Young, 141. 
Priestley & Weale, 21. 
Priorato, II, 34. 
Pyrrhus, 130. 

Quincey, de, 104. 


Regia Calcografia, 99. 
Revett, N., 'jT, 78. 
Reynolds, Sir J., 76, 87. 
Rezzonico, 21, 35. 
Ricci of Belluno, 4. 
Rimini, 17. 
Rococo, 62, 63. 
Rossi, Girolamo, 30. 

Salcindio Tiseio, 39, 112. 
Santa Maria del Popolo, 34. 
St. Andrea della Fratte, 33. 
St. Maria Aventina, 2>2)' 
St. Oswald, Lord, 'j'^. 
St. Peter's, 28, 116. 
St. Vincent, Lord, 165. 
Saracens, 27, 130. 
Scalfarotto, i, 4. 
Schiller, 142. 
Schopenhauer, 192. 
Scott, Sir Walter, i, 141. 
Septizonium of Severus, 28. 
Shakespeare, 188. 
Shelburne, Earl of, 144, 150, 

Shelley, 5. 

Sheraton, Thomas, 47, 178. 
Sibyl, Temple of, 122. 
Sicilies, The Two, 13. 
Sion House, 55. 
Sixtus v., Pope, 147. 
Slade, T. M., 91. 
Sloane, Sir Hans, 51. 
Smith, " Rainy Day," 148. 
Soane, Sir John, 60, 68, 1 10, 

121, 122. 


Society of Arts, 53. 
Society, The Royal, 51. 
Somerset House, 46. 
Spalato, 46, 90. 
Spenser, 188. 
Spiers, Phene, 11. 
Stanley, Lord, 49. 
Stockholm, 162. 
Stolberg, Baron, 33. 
Stuart, Athenian, ^p^ 78. 
Sturgis, Russell, 118, 128. 
Swarbrick, John, 44. 
Sybaris, 15, 129. 

Talbot, Thomas Mansel, 144. 
Tarentum, Bay of, 15. 
Tarquinius Priscus, 10. 
Temanza, i, 41. 
Tessin, 157. 
Thackeray, 187. 
Thorwaldsen, 39. 
Tiber floods, 27. 
Tiepolo, 12, 138. 
Tiepoletto, 138. 
Tijou, 106. 
Tintoret, 188. 
Tipaldo, 23, 163, 
Titus, Arch of, 27. 
Tivoli, 122. 
Tomati Palazzo, 39. 
Totila, 26. 

Tor Colombaro, 152. 
Townley, Charles, 91, 144, 145, 

Trinitk de Monti, 39. 
Troubridge, Sir Thomas, 165. 
Tucker, 166. 
Tuscany, Grand Duke of, 156. 


Valeriani, 4, 5. 

Vandals, 27. 

Vanderveldes, 53. 

Vandyck, 53. 

Vasi, 4, 5. 

Venice, its attractions, 135. 

Venuti, 40. 

Verona, 17. 

Verrio, 53. 

Vestris, 87. 

Visconti, 153, 164. 

Vitiges, 27. 

Volpi, 24. 

Voltaire, 138, 171. 


Wallis, 51. 
Walpole, 104. 
Wedgwood, 126. 
Wilson, Richard, 145. 
Winckelmann, 46, 47, 48, 141, 

Wolcot, 92. 
Wood, Robert, ']']. 
Wren, Sir Christopher, 52. 

Zatta, 140. 
Zoega, 154. 
Zucchi, 47, 48, 88. 

Printed by MORRISON & GiBB LIMITED, Edinburgh 


FEB 2 5 t998 

rc^i 1 ^ lMft* 


^ 4 2005 

1 . 







DEMCO, INC. 38-2971 j 


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