At the center of the image is a Christian cross, and within the Colosseum is, as Piranesi’s caption indicates, a modern church. The full title of the image, “Veduta dell’anfiteatro Flavio detto il Colosseo,” distinguishes between the ancient and contemporary name of its subject. In a similar way, the focus and possibly even the appearance of the captions in this image emphasize imperial rather than Christian Rome. They appear on illusionistic scrolls, which, uncommon for Piranesi’s captions in the Vedute di Roma, suggest imperial proclamations. From the image’s domineering perspective down onto the amphitheater, viewers are encouraged to master the past through information. While Piranesi uses illusions of perspective and trompe-l’œil to heighten the Colosseum’s unquestionable display of imperial might, the numerous annotation markers also break the illusions of the image’s visual foundations. After the geometric regularity and expansive scope of this and the previous depiction of the Colosseum, the following view presents a radically different perspective, both visually and conceptually. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.