The Digital Piranesi
This page was created by Erin Jones. The last update was by Zoe Langer.
View of the Capitoline Hill
In the foreground, street life firmly locates the Renaissance piazza in the eighteenth century: the bustling activity of carriages and vendors creates a linear boundary, almost entirely in shadow, while sunlight falls on the piazza and the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. With the first item in the key, Piranesi’s practical concerns become clear. He labels the Senatorial Palace as the “Abitazione di Sua Eccellenza il Signore Senatore di Roma” [“Home of His Excellency the Senator of Rome”]. Don Abbondio Rezzonico, Senator of Rome during Piranesi’s working life, became the artist’s patron, acquiring many of his early works. His brother Giovanni Battista Rezzonico, Grand Prior of the Order of Malta and a Cardinal, commissioned the only architectural plans of Piranesi’s to be realized—the renovations for Santa Maria del Priorato—in the 1760s, and Piranesi is known to have designed interiors for Giovanni Rezzonico’s residence at the Palazzo Quirinale, Don Abbondio’s at the Palazzo Senatorio, and their uncle, Pope Clement XIII’s, at Castel Gandolfo. Although evidence of the actual interiors is scant, Piranesi’s drawings of furniture that the family owned, such as this small table, appear in his Diverse maniere d'adornare i cammini, which he dedicated to Giambattista Rezzonico (Barry 91; Wilton-Ely 1988, 102-3; González-Palacios 224-6). Within a patronage system that placed high value on sharing a hometown, the Rezzonico brothers were, as fellow Venetians, powerful connections for an artist whose efforts to depict and preserve antiquity were always intertwined with the necessity of financial support. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.