In the caption, Piranesi notes that “Questo Sepolcro non si sa a qual Famiglia abbia potuto appartenere; stante che gli è stata levata la sua antica Iscrizione.” Piranesi devoted an entire volume to inscriptions, the Lapides Capitolini, in which he transcribed the original text of hundreds of inscriptions in addition to correcting or completing those that had been obscured or destroyed. Indeed, if ruins serve a deictic function by pointing to absent or lost histories, Piranesi here employs trompe-l’œil to supplement that deictic gesture with his own contemporary inscription. Verbally signalling what is unknown, the image renders the tomb legible by casting a light on its magnificent features that remain. (ZL)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.