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Another view of the Temple of the Sibyl in Tivoli
12019-11-11T16:57:35-08:00Avery Freemanb9edcb567e2471c9ec37caa50383522b90999cba228491from Volume 17 of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Opereplain2019-11-11T16:57:35-08:00Internet ArchivedatapiranesiRescan_vol17_0337.jpgAvery Freemanb9edcb567e2471c9ec37caa50383522b90999cba
12019-05-29T13:31:28-07:00Another View of the Temple of the Sibyl in Tivoli (1 of 2)24Altra Veduta del tempio della Sibilla in Tivoliplain2022-08-03T07:13:07-07:00Title: ALTRA VEDVTA DEL TEMPIO DELLA SIBILLA IN TIVOLI 1 Cella del Tempio. 2 Vestigj del tribunale e della salita. 3 Muro della cella di opera incerta. 4 Emplecton, o sia riempitura del muro della cella. Le colonne, gli architravi, e le altre parti solide di questo tempio, sono di Tevertino. Esso era tutto coperto di stucco, come si riconosce dagli avanzi sparsi quà e là, tanto su l’opera di pietra, che cementizia. Signature: Piranesi F(ecit).Title: 1 Room of the Temple. 2 Remains of the tribunal and the stairs. 3 Wall of the room, of irregular construction. 4. Emplecton, or the method by which the space between the walls of the room is filled up. The columns, the architraves, and the other solid parts of this temple are of Travertine This was completely covered by stucco, as one can recognize by the scattered remains here and there, made of stone as much as by cement. Signature: Made by Piranesi.This temple was a popular subject during and before the eighteenth century. Paintings by artists including VernetandClaude Lorrain (1600-1682) emphasize its surrounding picturesque countryside, and etchings by other artists convey its architectural details. The angle of observation that this view adopts, though, is far from popular. Piranesi produced three views of the Temple of the Sibyl, with the second two sharing the title of “Altra veduta del Tempio della Sibilla in Tivoli.” Throughout the Vedute di Roma, certain monuments receive similar attention in a “view” followed by “another view.” This “other view” in particular “is literally a ‘reverse side’ of the previous image,” which has the effect of “rendering invisible and perhaps symbolically undermining the very notion of the architectural grandeur of antiquity” (Zarucchi 369). Indeed, the visual composition emphasizes a crumbling wall, only two columns of the intact expanse of the colonnade are visible, and large architectural fragments overwhelm the foreground. But as the annotations make clear, Piranesi’s focus in this image lies with the material contents rather than the aesthetic grandeur of the temple.
He carefully differentiates, in verbal annotations and etching technique, between travertine, stucco, stone, and concrete. This “other view” does provide a better angle on the texture of building materials by bringing the viewer closer to the structure itself. In a similar way, the figures in the foreground are, compared to those in the first view in the Didot edition, also in close proximity to architectural substance, as they touch and lean on column fragments. In this view, the architectural rubble that often crowds the foreground, impeding a viewer’s imaginative entry into the image are an integral element of the image rather than an imaginative impediment, and they are signaled for their evidentiary importance. An annotation refers to remains scattered here and there—“avanzi sparsi quà e là”—from which it can be deduced that certain elements of the temple were made of travertine covered with stucco. This “other view” offers the perspective, perhaps, of the archaeologist rather than the tourist, or that of a frequent visitor to Tivoli, whose experience of antiquity combines the visual with the tactile while subsuming aesthetic grandeur within material proximity. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.