The Digital Piranesi

Genres and Subjects

“The Digital Piranesi” organizes Piranesi’s works in two ways: according to their original publication in the individual works collected in the volumes of the Opere under “Works and Volumes,” and, below, according to their primary subject or genre. Accessing Piranesi’s works in this way, as opposed to their original works, calls attention to their different approaches to media.

Piranesi’s architectural views and his referential networks require complex interactions with the spaces of the printed, illustrated book. These ways of interacting with print—tracing cross-references, “reading” an image through its explanatory key—call for specific methods of preservation and display beyond producing digital images. “The Digital Piranesi” aims to perform digitally the links that Piranesi forges in print between maps, indices, and images; across unnumbered pages in multiple volumes; and within heavily-annotated engravings. The digital environment, although it is unable to reproduce the materiality of his original works, offers a way of experiencing his works that is complementary to his vision. Digitally representing not only Piranesi’s images but also their interconnections (in his maps), composite layers (in his layered images), and verbal references (in his annotated views) suggests new insights about eighteenth-century Rome, the birth of art history as a discipline, and the graphical representation of knowledge.

Below, his works are (gradually being organized and) divided according to either their primary subject (prisons, fancies) or their genre (map, view, layered image). 

Contents of this path: