The Digital Piranesi


Piranesi’s “Ichnographia” is a rendering of the Campus Martius region of ancient Rome. In this large fold-out, Piranesi presents a few surviving, recognizable monuments—such as the Pantheon, visible between the “A” and “M” in “Campus”—as well as circuses and statues. Its outer edge appears to be that of a stone slab, held by metal brackets. Smaller fragments at the top of the map enhance the illusion that Piranesi’s eighteenth-century map is an ancient fragment, as if to authenticate his own image by suggesting its status as historical evidence. In what looks like carved stone in the upper left, Piranesi dedicates this map to the Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-1792), who studied with Piranesi in Rome and went on to lead the classical revival in Western architecture.

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