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To be offered 04/06/17: Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720-1778) "The Pier With the Lamp" Plate XV from "Carceri d'Invenzione", etching and engraving on laid paper.

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David Bloom
Vice President | Senior Specialist

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Published: 1 March 2017

An Inventive Italian | Giovanni Battista Piranesi

A Natural Visionary
To be offered 04/06/17: Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720-1778) "Veduta Dell'Arco di Settimio Severo" from "Vedute di Roma", etching and engraving.Born in Venice in 1720 and educated as an architect, Giovanni Battista Piranesi left for Rome in 1740, to study etching under master Giuseppe Vasi. Piranesi went on to work as a draughtsman for the Venetian Ambassador to Pope Benedict XIV, though his passion and natural talent for etching eventually won out.

From 1748 to 1774, Piranesi produced a constant series of etchings illustrating the architecture and antiquities of Rome and its environs. His most famous series are titled Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome) and Carceri D'Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons). Freeman’s is pleased to offer selected etchings from both series, in the upcoming sale of the Jeffrey M. Kaplan Collection.

Raising Expectations
Known as much for his artistic diligence as for his impetuous and quarrelsome nature, Piranesi, more than any other figure, was responsible for forming the image held of Rome's architectural antiquities for educated Europeans outside of Italy. The German writer Goethe, in his “Italian Journey of 1786-1788,” found something lacking in the grandeur of Rome's actual architectural monuments, as compared to the expectation raised in him by Piranesi's ultimately romantic vision.

However, the subjects of Piranesi’s Vedute di Roma, while accurate in every detail, are each presented from entirely imaginary perspectives. Likewise, the Carceri, or Prison series, combinations of ruins and architectural elements, are entirely fantastical creations, of an emerging romantic imagination, leading, as the art critic Kenneth Clark postulated, to the abstract intimations and terrors of the 20th-century.

We invite you to join us on Friday, March 31, when the exhibition of 1,000 Years of Collecting | The Jeffrey M. Kaplan Collection opens to the public.  On view will be total of 14 prints by Piranesi to be offered in the April 6 auction, alongside Chinese ceramics, 20th century design, European furniture & decorative arts, Art Glass of the 19th-21st centuries, American modernist works on paper and more.

Read More | The Jeffrey M. Kaplan Collection

To be offered 04/06/17: Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720-1778) "The Pier With the Lamp" Plate XV from "Carceri d'Invenzione;" "Veduta Dell'Arco di Settimio Severo" from "Vedute di Roma"

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