This page was created by Alexis Kratzer.  The last update was by Jeanne Britton.

The Digital Piranesi

View of the Small Waterfalls in Tivoli

Although Tivoli is the site of an extensive and complex system of fountains, Piranesi instead depicts, in this and the previous etching, a purely natural scene where there is almost no sign of human interference. Uniquely devoid of any manmade structures, this view suggests his potential skills as a landscape artist of a particularly Romantic bent (Scott 175). Compared with the sketch Robert Adam made from a very similar vantage point, this view of the small waterfall at Tivoli includes dramatic embellishments absent from Adam’s more accurate depiction (Tait 524-5). It shares the general compositional features of the previous view of the large waterfall at the same site: in each view, a cliff looms on the left, with a human figure gesturing perilously towards the water, and the title appears within the image on the lower right. While the composition of these images is similar, their coloring is different. The waterfall in the previous image seems, compared to Piranesi’s vivid use of chiaroscuro in illustrations of Roman monuments or, closer in subject matter, imposing and heavily-shaded drainage systems or layered illustrations of aqueducts, somewhat feeble, rendered with faint, straight lines as opposed to the dark, textural lines of the surrounding cliffs. The previous image creates a sharp division between the darkness of surrounding cliffs and the almost blank stream of the waterfall in the center. In this image, the contrast between light and dark is evenly dispersed across land and water. (JB)

To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.

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