river seekers1 2022-03-05T12:43:10-08:00 Jeanne Britton e120651dde677d5cf1fd515358b14d86eb289f11 22849 1 plain 2022-03-05T12:43:10-08:00 Jeanne Britton e120651dde677d5cf1fd515358b14d86eb289f11
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View of the Bridge and Castel Sant’Angelo
Veduta del Ponte e Castello Sant’ Angelo
Title: Veduta del Ponte e Castello Sant’Angelo. Key: 1. Avanzi del Sepolcro di Adriano Imperatore. Da questo furono levate da Costantino Magno le Colonne della Basilica di San Paolo fuori delle mura. Nella cima di esso era colocata la Pigna di metallo, dentro la quale stavano riposte le ceneri del medesimo Adriano: da quí fu trasportata insieme coi Pavoni pur di metallo nel Giardino di Belvedere nel Vaticano. Questo Sepolcro poi fu ridotto in forma di Castello. 2. Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano. 3. Palazzo Pontificio. 4. Ospitale di Santo Spirito. 5. Teatro di Tordinona. 6. Espurgo delle immondezze della Città. Signature: Piranesi Architetto fec(it). Signature 2: Presso l’Autore a Strada Felice nel palazzo Tomati vicino alla Trinità de’monti
Title: View of the Bridge and Castel Sant’Angelo Key: 1. Ruins of the Sepulcher of the Emperor Hadrian. From this tomb Constantine the Great removed the Columns of the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura. At the top of this tomb there was a metal Pine Cone, inside of which the ashes of this Hadrian were kept: from here they were transported, together with peacocks, also made of metal, to the Belvedere Gardens in the Vatican. This Sepulcher was then transformed into a Castle. 2. St. Peter’s Basilica. 3. Pontifical Palace. 4. Hospital of Santo Spirito. 5. Theater of Tordinona. 6. Outlet of the refuse of the city. Signature: Made by the Architect Piranesi. Signature 2: Signature 2: Published by the Author on the Strada Felice in Palazzo Tomati near Trinità de Monti.
In his Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud describes a dream about one of Piranesi’s views—very likely this one—as a way to explain the layering of memories that characterizes his understanding of the human mind. Freud’s work contains accounts of many dreams that are “based on a longing to visit Rome.” In one, he looks out the window of a train at the Tiber and Ponte Sant’Angelo, only to have the train pull away before he can set foot on Roman soil. In another, he actually arrives in Rome but is “disappointed to find that the scenery was far from being of an urban character.” In another, the Italian city is full of German posters—an indication, he thought, that it might be uncomfortable to be a German speaker in Rome. But his reference to an unspecified engraving in another dream strongly suggests the view above: “I once dreamt of seeing the Tiber and the bridge of St. Angelo from the window of a railroad compartment; then the train starts, and it occurs to me that I have never entered the city at all. The view which I saw in the dream was modelled after an engraving which I had noticed in passing the day before in the parlour of one of my patients” (1913, 162-4).
By identifying Saint Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, the Papal Palace, and the Holy Spirit Hospital, the annotations in this view of the Bridge and Castel Sant’Angelo orient the viewer within the city. But in the image’s first annotation, Piranesi exposes the city’s material layers of history in ways that resemble Freud’s own account of human memory. He describes the removal of materials and remains from Hadrian’s Tomb before the structure was reshaped as the Papal fortress. Under Constantine the Great, columns were removed and later used in the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, and Hadrian’s ashes were transported, inside a bronze pinecone and along with gilded peacocks, to the Belvedere Garden Court. The contemporary human activity he portrays complements this history. As Katherine Wentworth Rinne observes, scavengers for valuables—some of which littered the Tiber for a millennium—are visible in the foreground of this image (24-5). Granted licenses to search for metal, stone, and other refuse, cercatore del fiume are shown performing a modern, lowly version of the removal and reuse that Piranesi’s caption describes.
In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud posits Rome not as “a human dwelling-place, but a mental entity with just as long and varied a past history: that is, in which nothing once constructed had perished, and all the earlier stages of development had survived alongside the latest.” “The observer,” he continues, “would need merely to shift the focus of this eyes, perhaps, or change his position, in order to call up a view of either the one or the other” (1930, 17-8). While Piranesi’s images linger in the memory, his annotations and human figures bring the buried past into the lived present. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 16 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.