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Interior View of Santa Maria Maggiore
Veduta interna della Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Title: Veduta interna della Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Signature: Caval(iere). Piranesi inc(ise).
Title: Interior View of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore Signature: Engraved by Cavalier Piranesi.
As in the previous view, Piranesi here follows visual precedent and the traditional elements of the genre of the veduta in order to appeal to commercial demands of the print market. Santa Maria Maggiore was among the earliest group of etchings Piranesi published, which focused primarily on famous churches that attracted pilgrims, and antiquarians, and tourists, such as those we see in his foreground. The orderly procession of people and regimented columns that line the central nave is more characteristic of Piranesi’s contemporaries, particularly Giovanni Paolo Pannini's view of the church interior (c. 1755), than the exaggerated perspective and dramatic action typical of his Vedute di Roma, especially those of ancient ruins. Broadly speaking, there is substantial evidence of the circulation, collaboration, and copying of drawings and prints between Piranesi and other vedutisti (Bevilacqua; Nevola 2016). A possible indication that Piranesi adapted Pannini’s work for this particular etching is the remarkably similar but reversed architecture of the composition, a process that occurs in printing, often in images that are traced or copied. The tomb sculpture of Pope Clement IX, with his notably outstretched arm in the gesture of benediction, appears on the left in Piranesi’s view.
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 16 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.