This page was created by Erin Jones.  The last update was by Jeanne Britton.

The Digital Piranesi

View of the Temple of Concord

Piranesi depicts the Temple of Concord twice in the Vedute di Roma. While both views share the same vantage point, the worm’s eye view, the title, composition, and visual focus of this image celebrate the magnificence of the ancient temple instead of exposing, in an “other view,” its contemporary decline. This first view is a relatively straightforward representation of the monument. The columns of the colonnaded façade of the temple appear in the center of the composition. Scenographic devices draw the eye toward the temple: the sharp angle of the street on the left, the theatrically wide gesture of the man pulling a baying donkey, and the darkened and robust pilasters of the Arch of Septimius Severus in the foreground (Wilton-Ely 1994, 237). The shadowy triumphal arch functions both as a drawn theater curtain that introduces the scene and as a contrast with the illuminated temple. A close examination of the right sides of the columns reveals that they have hardly been etched and are almost as light as the tone of the paper. Lighting effects in combination with the frontal view and skewed perspective further enhance the grandeur of the monument, which emerges from the dirt as a mountain of marble and stone. 

Though the captions indicate only ancient monuments, the architectural history of the city is visible in Piranesi’s portrayal of different styles. This . Unlike his contemporaries, Piranesi often placed emphasis on such juxtapositions of ancient and modern, a typical feature of the Roman urban landscape, in ways that both demonstrate the majesty of ancient Roman architecture and anticipate the archeological survey. For example, the classical simplicity of the late Renaissance apse of the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione in the left background opposes the rich ornamentation of the ancient monuments that are the focus of this image. Medieval arches sprout out of the top of the architrave of the temple as if they were bulbs of foliage, while temporary structures, a product of increased urban expansion, amalgamate below it. The prominent inscription on the architrave of the temple, “INCENDIVM CONSVMPTUM RESTITUIT,” further highlights this contrast by referencing its “restoration” after the devastating fire of the Roman Forum early in the century. In Piranesi’s discussion of the temple in his Antichità Romane, he uses the inscription and other features to determine the different architectural strata of the monument. Here, as well as in the previous engraving of the Temple, such stratifications are made visible. (ZL)

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

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