This page was created by Erin Jones. The last update was by Jeanne Britton.
The Digital PiranesiMain MenuAboutThe Digital Piranesi is a developing digital humanities project that aims to provide an enhanced digital edition of the works of Italian illustrator Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778).Works and VolumesGenres, Subjects, and ThemesBibliographyGlossary
View of the Palazzo Odescalchi
12018-12-07T15:21:28-08:00Erin Jonesff57f567e7b1b1483367dc101143970f40cd9e262284913Veduta del Palazzo Odescalchiplain2021-11-20T07:00:17-08:00Title: Veduta del Palazzo Odescalchi Key: 1. Palazzo Colonna. 2. Basilica de’ Santi XII. Apostoli. 3. Convento de’ Padri Minori Conventuali. 4. Palazzo Muti. 5. Convento de’ Padri Serviti di San Marcello. 6. Piazza de’ Santi Apostoli. Signature: Gio(vanni) Batt(ista) Piranesi Arch(itetto). F(ecit). Signature 2: Presso l’Autore a Strada Felice nel palazzo Tomati vicino alla Trinità de montiTitle: View of Palazzo Odescalchi Key: 1. Palazzo Colonna. 2. Basilica de’ Santi XII Apostoli [Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles] 3. Monastery of the Minor Conventual Friars 4. Palazzo Muti. 5. Monastery of the Padri Serviti of San Marcello. 6. Piazza de’ Santi Apostoli. Signature: Made by the Architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Signature 2: Published by the Author on the Strada Felice in Palazzo Tomati near Trinità de Monti.Jeanne Brittone120651dde677d5cf1fd515358b14d86eb289f11This image is the final of seven engravings of urban palaces that are grouped together in this volume of the Views of Rome. In their composition, each of these images follows the model of the veduta in which the diagonal lines and layered spatial arrangements of Baroque stage design’s scena per angolo recede towards one vanishing point (Campbell 563). Each of these images also includes informative annotations, many of which, positioned at the vanishing point, lead a viewer’s eyes towards a specified distant spot. While this composition pulls a viewer’s eyes along the diagonal formed by the recently extended façade of the Odescalchi Palace, Piranesi’s annotations point to the ground and the sky in order to identify the piazza and numerous nearby structures. The palace’s six coats of arms interrupt both the pilasters that, contrary to custom, reach across the façade’s two levels and the strict linear design that extends toward the vanishing point. Their curved, irregular lines find a visual echo in the heavily-shaded burdens of indistinct organic matter that horses or mules transport away from the viewer in the foreground. In this image’s caption, Piranesi does not indicate the architects responsible for the palace’s recent expansion, Nicola Salvi (1697-1751) and Luigi Vanvitelli (1700-1773), whom he elsewhere names as “due chiarissimi Architetti dell’età nostra” [two illustrious architects of our time] (Piranesi, Drawings and Etchings exhibition 116, 118). It is worth noting that he acknowledges the work of Salvi in the captions of both his early and later etching of the Trevi Fountain (and, for that matter, the work of Rafael d’Urbino in the caption to Palazzo Stopani). In considering this unsurprising lack of attribution, it is worth noting that Vanvitelli, one of the most successful architects in Rome, repeatedly referred to Piranesi as “mad.” In one case, he simply called him “perfettissimo matto in tutto” [perfectly mad in everything] (cited in de Leeuw 259). In a letter to his brother, he also wrote about Piranesi’s proposal to design a new papal altar in San Giovanni in Laterano: “if they were to get Piranesi to carry out some building, one could see what would come out of a madman’s head, without any sound basis” (cited in Sorensen 172). Piranesi’s somewhat dutiful engravings of Rome’s sumptuous palaces betray none of his so-called madness, even if this image might indirectly suggest, through a lack of attribution, the personal conflicts that featured in much of his professional life. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 16 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.
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1media/16 frontispiece.jpg2018-11-23T19:33:38-08:00Jeanne Brittone120651dde677d5cf1fd515358b14d86eb289f11Views of Rome (1 of 2)Jeanne Britton80Vedute di Romaimage_header2021-12-16T13:40:35-08:00Jeanne Brittone120651dde677d5cf1fd515358b14d86eb289f11