The pedestal facing the Gran Curia was that of the Column of Antoninus Pius (now recognized as lost). In his Trofeo o sia Magnifica Colonna (c. 1774), Piranesi shows this column , imagines its position on the ground, and offers a contemporary view of its base alone. This final image, titled “Veduta del Piedestallo dell’Apoteosi di Antonino Pio, e di Faustina sua moglie nella Piazza di Monte Citorio,” gives an alternate view of the piazza shown above. But in this later view, antiquity takes center stage, and heavy shading emphasizes the gravity and magnificence of the pedestal. In the view above, antiquity is a marginal, indistinct presence, positioned almost in confrontation with the modern structure and its institutional power. In a similar but more jarring composition, the following view of another Renaissance palace emphasizes this juxtaposition with the broken obelisk and column fragments that appear in its densely populated and deeply etched foreground. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 16 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.