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View of the Palazzo di Montecitorio
Veduta della Gran Curia Innocenziana edificata sulle rovine dell’Anfiteatro di Statilio Tauro, che formano l’odierno Monte Citorio
Title and Key: 1. Veduta della Gran Curia Innocenziana edificata sulle rovine dell’Anfiteatro di Statilio Tauro, che formano l’odierno Monte Citorio. 2. Residenza di Monsignor Uditor Generale della Reverenda Camera. 3. Residenza di Monsignor Tesorier Generale. 4. Gran Sala dell’Udienza. 5. Residenze de’ Prelati Luogotenenti dell’Uditorato. 6. Ufizj, o Cancellerie de’ Notari del medesimo Uditorato. 7. Palazzo colle Segreterie e Cancellieri della Reverenda Camera. 8. Piedistallo che sosteneva anticamente la Colonna dell’Apoteosi di Antonino Pio, estratto insieme con essa dai fondamenti delle vicine Casa de’ Signori della Missione, e fatto ultimamente erigere sulla piazza dalla Santità di Nostro Signore Benedetto XIV. 9. Piazza Colonna. 10. Colonna Antonina colle gesta di Marco Aurelio per la vittoria de’ Marcomanni. 11. Palazzo del Principe Chigi. 12. Palazzo Spada sulla via del Corso. Signature: Piranesi F(ecit). Signature 2: Presso l’Autore a Strada Felice nel Palazzo Tomati vicino alla Trinità de’monti
Title and Key: 1. View of the Palazzo Montecitorio, or Innocent’s Grand Papal Curia, built on the ruins of the Amphitheater of Statilius Taurus, which forms today’s Monte Citorio. 2. Residence of the Chief Judge of the Reverenda Camera 3. Residence of the Chief Treasurer 4. Great Hall of the Court 5. Residence of the Deputy Prelates of the Court 6. Offices, or Chanceries of Notaries of the same Court 7. Palace with the Secretariats and Chanceries of the Reverenda Camera 8. Pedestal that sustained in ancient times the Column of the Apotheosis of Antoninus Pius, taken out with the column from the foundations of the nearby Casa de’ Signori della Missione, and ultimately erected in the piazza by his Holiness Our Lord Benedict XIV. 9. Piazza Colonna. 10. Antonine Column with the deeds of Marcus Aurelius for his victory over the Marcomanni. 11. Palace of the Chigi Prince. 12. Palazzo Spada on the Via del Corso. Signature: Made by Piranesi. Signature 2: Published by the Author on the Strada Felice in Palazzo Tomati near Trinità de Monti.
Piranesi’s views of the Renaissance palaces and urban vistas of modern Rome show a skillful mastery of etching technique and a broad spectrum of urban activity but occasionally betray his stronger interest in the ancient city. This view is one of Piranesi’s modern urban vistas that draws viewers’ eyes along a highly detailed, sharp diagonal into an indistinct distance with its one-point perspective and then pushes those viewers, now readers, to the key that lies in the margins of the image with an annotation positioned at the vanishing point. The subject of this view, the Gran Curia Innocenziana, is today the seat of the lower house of Italy’s parliament. Visually, this etching lacks the dramatic chiaroscuro that is characteristic of Piranesi’s other views. A foreground thick with people, carriages, and heavy inking delimits the depicted space. The middle ground is rather light and uniform in its shading, and, at the center of the image, the bright façade faces the equally bright background of the column pedestal on the far right. Copious annotations mark specific chambers behind windows from which human figures observe the outdoor scene. Annotations 10 and 12 point to the distance, indicating the Column of Marcus Aurelius and the Palazzo Spada. This image’s full title, which also serves as the first of its many annotations, indicates that its subject was built on the ruins of the Amphitheater of Statilius Taurus, the first amphitheater intended to be permanent in Rome. Piranesi’s other works supplement these annotations with reconstructions and alternate views of the ancient remains that lie buried beneath and wedged between the eighteenth century’s modern buildings. In his Campus Martius volume, he depicts the Anfiteatro di Statilio Tauro as an intact structure.
The pedestal facing the Gran Curia was that of the Column of Antoninus Pius (now recognized as lost). In his Trofeo o sia Magnifica Colonna (c. 1774), Piranesi shows this column , imagines its position on the ground, and offers a contemporary view of its base alone. This final image, titled “Veduta del Piedestallo dell’Apoteosi di Antonino Pio, e di Faustina sua moglie nella Piazza di Monte Citorio,” gives an alternate view of the piazza shown above. But in this later antiquarian view, antiquity takes center stage, and heavy shading emphasizes the gravity and magnificence of the pedestal. In the view above, antiquity is a marginal, indistinct presence, positioned almost in confrontation with the modern structure and its institutional power. In a similar but more jarring composition, the following view of another Renaissance palace emphasizes this juxtaposition with the broken obelisk and column fragments that appear in its densely populated and deeply etched foreground. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 16 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.