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PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista (1720--1778)
[Grotteschi.]
[Roma]:, [Giovanni Bouchard],, [1753 or 4].
[4] double-page etch. pl. ; 52 cm. (1°)

These four uncaptioned prints are described as 'Grotteschi' in the letterpress title-page to Piranesi's Opere varie (q.v.), a 'combination' volume of his etched series first issued by Giovanni Bouchard in 1750. They were originally published as an independent suite however by Piranesi himself soon after he returned to Rome from Venice in September 1747. The present copy was issued as part of a two-volume set of Piranesi's etchings to date published in 1753 or 4 by Giovanni Bouchard under the collective title of Le magnificenze di Roma (q.v.).

Often considered Piranesi's most Venetian work, reflecting the possibly direct influence of Giambattista Tiepolo, the 'Grotteschi' are in fact best understood as a development of the 'capricci' strand of the Prima parte (q.v.). Instead of sunlit evocations of lost grandeur however, Rome's vast mouldering ruins now seethe with the sinister energy of decay, such that stone statues and figures on ancient reliefs seem to be more alive than the people looking at them and to have conjured up the living dead in retribution for their despoliation.

Copy Notes Bound as the third distinct element in the second volume of a two-volume set of Piranesi's works issued under the collective title of Le magnificenze di Roma (q.v.). With manuscript pagination 81--95 top right in ink (versos are un-numbered but included in the count), corresponding to Robison's catalogue descriptions as follows:

Pl. [1]: The Tomb of Nero (R23 ii/vi)

Pl. [2]: The Monumental Tablet (R24 ii/iv)

Pl. [3]: The Triumphal Arch (R22 i/v)

Pl. [4]: The Skeletons (R21 ii/v)

Binding C18th calf, triple gilt-ruled borders, gilt-tooled spines, black morocco spine-labels, gilt-lettered 'Opera De Piranesi / II'.

Reference Number 6457


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