Auction 142, Lot 574

Piranesi's Famous Bird's-Eye View of St. Peter's Basilica

"Veduta dell'insigne Basilica Vaticana coll'ampio Portico, e Piazza Adjacente", Piranesi, Giovanni Battista

Subject: Rome, Italy

Period: 1775 (circa)

Publication: Vedute di Roma

Color: Black & White

27.6 x 17.8 inches
70.1 x 45.2 cm

Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian artist and engraver who is famous for creating a series of views of Rome, and was one of the most influential artists in the development of the neoclassical style of the late 18th century. Following Piranesi’s death in 1778, his heirs continued to publish his works, first from Rome and then from Paris, reissuing his etchings until 1839. This is one of Piranesi's most famous views of St. Peter's Basilica. It is a superbly rendered bird’s-eye view of the Basilica and the enormous piazza and colonnades that stretch out before it. Numerous horse-drawn carriages and other visitors are scattered throughout. A numbered key at bottom identifies the Papal Palace, the galleries containing the paintings of Raphael, the city walls of Rome, the passage between the Vatican and Castel S. Angelo, and the Palace of the Holy Inquisition. Engraved by Piranesi, whose imprint appears at bottom right as Cavalier Piranesi, which is how he signed his plates after being knighted by the Pope in 1765. This is the first state, published in a contemporary Roman edition during Piranesi's lifetime.

References: Hind (Giovanni Battista Piranesi) #120-I.

Condition: B+

A dark, early impression on thick, hand laid paper with a fleur-de-lys in a double-circle watermark and a few small abrasions along centerfold. A short centerfold separation and an adjacent 1" tear at top have been professionally repaired.

Estimate: $3,000 - $4,000

Sold for: $1,500

Closed on 11/28/2012