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).Works and VolumesGenres, Subjects, and ThemesBibliographyGlossary and Abbreviations
View of the Facade of the Basilica Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
12020-02-20T06:55:43-08:00Avery Freemanb9edcb567e2471c9ec37caa50383522b90999cba228491from Volume 16 of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Opereplain2020-02-20T06:55:43-08:00Internet Archivepiranesi-ia-vol16-019.jpgimageAvery Freemanb9edcb567e2471c9ec37caa50383522b90999cba
12018-11-29T18:25:49-08:00View of the Façade of the Basilica Santa Croce in Gerusalemme28Veduta della Facciata della Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemmeplain2023-06-14T06:41:12-07:00Title: Veduta della Facciata della Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme Key: Monastero de’ Monaci Cisterciensi. 2. Muro moderno fabbricato sulle rovine dell’Anfiteatro Castrense. 3. Avanzi del Tempio della Speranza Vecchia. Signature: Presso l’Autore a Strada Felice nel Palazzo Tomati vicino alla Trinità de’Monti Signature 2: Giovan Battista Piranesi Architetto dis(egnavit)., ed inc(idit).Title: View of the Facade of the Basilica Santa Croce in Gerusalemme Key: Monastery of Cistercian Monks 2. Modern wall built on the ruins of the Amphitheater Castrense 3. Ruins of the Temple of the Speranza Vecchia Signature: Published by the Author in the Strada Felice in Palazzo Tomati near Trinità de Monti. Signature 2: Designed and engraved by the Architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi.The painterly effects of the tempestuous sky draw viewers into the baroque drama of this view of the papal basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Alternating between soft and deeply carved incisions, Piranesi’s etching technique enhances the theatrical play of light and shadow that grazes the curved and ornate façade of the church. In keeping with the late baroque style, or barocchetto, of the early eighteenth century, he displays the central façade with its most recent, and drastic, additions to accommodate the elliptical vestibule of the interior, and the serpentine poses of the statues on the balustrade complement the undulating façade. In the first detail below, the delicate and “spidery” lines look as though they have been freely sketched onto the plate (Wendorf 168). The wide gestures and sketchy lines of the statues mirror those in the human figures in the foreground, who, at times, even disappear into the background itself (as seen in detail 2). Similarly, the ruins of what Piranesi calls the “Temple of the Speranza Vecchia” both fade into and are highlighted by the white cloud on the left. By contrast, as seen in detail 3 above, the modern entrance to what the first annotation identifies as the “Monastery of the Cistercian Monks,” is delineated with rigid vertical lines.
Clear juxtapositions of light and shadow, curved and rectilinear lines, as well as rough and polished surfaces, call attention to the multiple periods of architecture that characterize the space. Yet the figures most emphatically point to the ancient ruins on opposite sides of the composition. Piranesi also highlights these older structures visually, through the brightest and darkest hues, and verbally, by labeling and describing them in the key below. The wall on the right side is almost completely obscured in shadow, yet in its monstrous girth it takes on an almost grotesque presence. Though crumbling and overgrown, its body in pieces of marble splayed at the border of the plate, the wall is actually of great significance to Piranesi, particularly in his archaeological works: it contains the remains of the ancient Castrense Amphitheater that were incorporated into the Aurelian walls, ruins whose material details are the subjects of some of the firstimages in the first volume of his Antichità Romane. (ZL)
To see this image in the Vedute di Roma, volume 16 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.