The Digital Piranesi
This page was created by Erin Jones. The last update was by Jeanne Britton.
View of the Palazzo Stopani
Piranesi instead reveals the disordered pastiche of the modern built environment, the adaptation of older structures for contemporary usage—shops, residences, alleyways, and roads—where the heart of city life becomes visible. Despite the fact that the Palazzo dominates the composition, the street captures the eye, for the Palazzo’s staid regularity seems flat compared to the dynamism, variety, and relative chaos that unfolds in the foreground. The lack of information in the key reinforces this fact. Indeed, the building is notable, according to Piranesi’s annotation, only because it was designed by Raphael. The more famous building is actually hidden in the background, the Chiesa del Gesù. Giuseppe Vasi, in his Prospetto di Roma, dedicates three pages to describing this Jesuit church, whereas the Palazzo receives only a line that briefly mentions Raphael’s role as architect (Vasi 1765, vol. 5, 196). Both Vasi and Piranesi allude to the significance of the church as a point of interest along the tourist itinerary heading toward the Campidoglio. While Raphael’s name would have made this particular engraving appealing to grand tourists, the steep diagonal of the street encourages movement through the city toward other significant sites, which appear in the following views. (ZL)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 16 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.