The three individual gestures, all pointing in the same direction, nevertheless lead a viewer’s eye towards the ruins. The structure’s modern name, as specified in the engraving’s title, marks a linguistic gap that adds to the sense of historical distance and physical decay. Perhaps this image’s conflicting visual guides—the diagonal lines, the gesturing figures—point towards the inaccessibility of the luxury and glory associated with ruins that, even though they can be observed and documented, remain out of contemporary reach. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.