Giovanni Battista Piranesi – Archeologist, Architect, Artist

Giovanni Battista Piranesi
October 4, 1720 – November 9, 1778

Portrait of Giovanni Battista Piranesi by Felice Polanzani, 1756 [via WikiMedia Commons]
Giovanni Battista (or GiambattistaPiranesi was an 18th century Italian archeologist, architect and artist, renowned for his etching of classical Rome and his series of imaginary prisons.  The son of a stonemason, he was born in Venice, he studied Latin and classical greek and roman history, and learned architecture as an apprentice at the side of his uncle who was responsible for restoring historical buildings in the city.  In Rome he studied with Guiseppi Vasi and at the French Academy of Rome and began to produce his famous “vedute” (views) of Rome’s grandeur, and ultimately became best known as an artist rather than an architect.  Piranese’s large format engravings of the monuments of antiquity were popular with Romantic period travelers visiting Italy on their Grand Tour, and this spread the artist’s fame and fascination across Europe.

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