The Digital PiranesiMain MenuAboutThe Digital Piranesi is a developing digital humanities project that aims to provide an enhanced digital edition of the works of Italian illustrator Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778).VolumesBibliographyGlossary and Abbreviations
View of the Colosseum (2 of 2)
12019-11-11T16:57:32-08:00Avery Freemanb9edcb567e2471c9ec37caa50383522b90999cba228491from Volume 17 of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Opereplain2019-11-11T16:57:32-08:00Internet ArchivedatapiranesiRescan_vol17_0181.jpgAvery Freemanb9edcb567e2471c9ec37caa50383522b90999cba
12018-03-23T15:31:17-07:00View of the Colosseum (2 of 2)32Veduta dell'anfiteatro Flavio, detto il Colosseoplain2020-11-20T12:28:05-08:00Title: VEDUTA DELL’ANFITEATRO FLAVIO DETTO IL COLOSSEO Key: A Mancano i Gradi, e le Sostruzioni B, che reggevano i detti Gradi. C Manca la Volta, sopra cui vi era il Podio, ove sedevano i Consoli, il Senato, i Sacerdoti, e le Vergini Vestali, le quali stavano dirimpetto al Pretorio. D Sedeva l’Ordine Equestre. E Manca la Loggia, o Pulvinare per l’Imperatore e sua Corte. F Gradi, di dove scendeva l’Imperatore Tito dalle sue Terme. Key 2: G. I Soldati Pretoriani erano quì disposti, e ne’passaggi. H Sedeva la Gioventù nobile co’loro Pedagoghi, ed altri attinenti ai Collegj, e Persone di rango. K Sedevano le Donne. L Scale per salir sopra a legar i Canapi per situar la Tenda. M Cappellette, e Croce nel mezzo, e Chiesa moderna. N Manca la Circonferenza esterna. O Avanzi di Stuchi lavorati a grottesco. Signature: Cav(alier). Piranesi F(ecit).Title: View of the Flavian Amphitheatre, called the Colosseum A Lacking the Stairs and Internal Structures B, that held up said Stairs C Lacking the Vault, above which there was the Podium, where the Consuls, the Senate, the Priests, and the Vestal Virgins were seated, who were in front of the Praetor D The Equestrian Order were seated here. E Lacking the Loggia, or platform, for the Emperor and his Court F Stairs, where the Emperor Titus descended from his Baths Key 2: G. The Praetorian Guard was positioned here and in the passageways H The noble Youths with their tutors, and others associated with the Colleges, and Persons of rank. K The Women were seated here. L Stairs to go above [to the upper levels] to tie the Ropes to position the Banner M Little chapels, and the Cross in the middle, and the modern Church. N Lacking the exterior walls O Remains of the stucco decorated with grotesques Signature: Made by the Knight Piranesi.Ascending from the worm’s-eye view of the previous image to a bird’s-eye view, this veduta, produced two decades later, presents an imaginary angle for the eighteenth-century citizen on a structure that is nearly impossible to depict. Indeed, locating the Colosseum’s intact wall in the background rather than the foreground produces a “perspectival distortion” that creates “the impression of a perfect circle” (Zorach, 118) and suggests that the amphitheater is “beyond representation” (Furlong, 112). This distortion is also a combination of three architectural views—elevation, section, and plan (Wilton-Ely 1988, 44). While Piranesi’s depictions of ruins often celebrate the natural growth that covers them, and in spite of the astoundingly prolific botanical variety within the Colosseum, it here resembles a giant open crater, lifeless and deserted (Bacou, 37) or perhaps “an extinct volcano,... an eruption of the building genius of the Romans” (Scott, 249). At the center of the image is a Christian cross, and within the Colosseum is, as Piranesi’s caption indicates, a modern church. But the focus and possibly even the appearance of the captions in this image, whose title (“Veduta dell’anfiteatro Flavio detto il Colosseo,” or “View of the Flavian Amphitheater, called the Colosseum”) distinguishes between the ancient and contemporary name of its subject, emphasize Imperial rather than Christian Rome. They appear on illusionistic scrolls, which, uncommon for Piranesi’s captions in the Views of Rome, suggest imperial proclamations. Indicating the separate seating areas of “i Consoli, il Senato, i Sacerdoti, e le Vergini Vestali [the Consuls, the Senate, the Priests, and the Vestal Virgins],” “l’Ordine Equestre [the Equestrian Order],” “la Gioventù nobile co’loro Pedagoghi [the noble Youths with their Tutors],” and “le Donne [the Women],” the captions stress class hierarchy and social order (Zorach, 119). From the geometric regularity and expansive scope of this and the previous depiction of the Colosseum, the following view presents a radically different perspective, both visually and conceptually. (JB)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.