The Digital Piranesi
This page was created by Alexis Kratzer. The last update was by Jeanne Britton.
View of the Piazza Navona above the Ruins of the Circus of Domitian (2 of 2)
The movement, fluidity, and force of the water, rendered by Piranesi with the utmost precision and dynamism, perhaps relates to how fountains served as a “metaphor [for] the preoccupation with urban boundaries” (San Juan, 129). Here, the two figures in the center foreground who wash their fruit baskets demonstrate fountains’ civic function: they supplied water to neighborhoods and were essential to the running of the weekly food market. As powerful symbols of authority, fountains were also used for courtly and religious festivals. Piranesi’s up-close depiction of the Fontana del Moro highlights the ways fountains anchored public space. Indeed, Piranesi renders the fountains with greater precision and detail than in the previous view, detailing, for example, the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the obelisk of Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. The fountain shown here takes up the foreground and the majority of the composition, whereas it is barely visible in the preceding view. Piranesi’s depiction of gushing water and bustling street life shows fountains to be marvels of modern design as well as innovations in hydraulics and engineering that reclaim the piazza for public use. (ZL)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 16 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.