This page was created by Diem Dao. 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 Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum
12018-11-05T18:29:02-08:00Diem Dao3c4eb4ce61925e81f1bf3cd1f35f5f910e8b3e79228494Veduta dell’Arco di Costantino, e l’Anfiteatro Flavio detto il Colosseoplain2020-08-28T18:36:09-07:00Jeanne Brittone120651dde677d5cf1fd515358b14d86eb289f11
To see this image in Vedute di Roma, vol 17 of Piranesi's Opere, click here.
17 Vedute 193
Despite its title, this view, evoking Piranesi’s knowledge of stage design, makes the Colosseum resemble a theatrical backdrop to the drama of eighteenth-century street life. Human life is bustling, with groups of tourists inspecting architectural fragments, women accompanied by young children, and an ornate carriage navigating irregular terrain. Tourists and Romans engaged in conversation and observation fill almost the same amount of visual space in this view as do its nominal subjects—the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum. Whereas other views exaggerate the magnificence of ancient monuments by surrounding them with diminutive human figures, this view literally foregrounds people, as well as animals and plants. The key is not part of image, and it gives no detail on either subject named in the title but instead, as Wilton-Ely observes, situates the Colosseum within its urban context (44). This context is also natural (with trees and vegetation growing alongside and atop the architectural fragments in the foreground) and topographical (with half of the keys indicating the Palatine and Esquiline hills. Within a vividly defined exterior, the Colosseum’s interior walls and arched passages appear as light suggestions that seem to fade into the cloudless sky rather than firm, heavy detail, which is instead prominent in the foreground. While another view of the Colosseum insists on the parallels between architectural and social orders and another offers an impossible angle of vision on the amphitheater, this image contextualizes ancient monuments within a natural, topographical, and human setting that competes for the beholder’s attention.
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