The Digital Piranesi
This page was created by Constance Caddell. The last update was by Jeanne Britton.
View of the Pantheon
Most obvious after the distortion in scale is the sprawling banner along the bottom of the image and its dense alphabetical key, which includes historical details, architectural features, and Piranesi’s opinions about their design and execution. The key’s textual density risks making its information indecipherable. While the appearance of Piranesi’s annotations might break the illusion of visual art, their content unites antiquarian and theoretical knowledge with aesthetic immersion. For example, the letter “O” succinctly details the dimensions of the columns that they indicate: “Solid columns of granite marble from Siena of 6.6 palmi in diameter and 63.8 palms in height.” The Pantheon that visitors see today is actually its third incarnation, built between 113 and 125 CE by the emperor Hadrian after the first and second buildings were both destroyed. Elsewhere in the key, Piranesi explains these changes: “Contemporary Portico (AB), Acroterion (CD) and Façade (E), showing their internal structure, as well as the later additions by Agrippa to the rotunda, as may be seen at letters DF, BG, and H, which show the same structure separated from the temple.” With its exaggerated scale and its abundant visual and textual detail, this image vividly embodies characteristic elements of Piranesi’s works. (JA)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here