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 Roman Forum (1 of 2)
12019-11-11T16:57:40-08:00Avery Freemanb9edcb567e2471c9ec37caa50383522b90999cba228491from Volume 17 of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Opereplain2019-11-11T16:57:40-08:00Internet ArchivedatapiranesiRescan_vol17_0061.jpgAvery Freemanb9edcb567e2471c9ec37caa50383522b90999cba
12018-11-12T15:34:28-08:00View of the Roman Forum (1 of 2)29Veduta di Campo Vaccinoplain2020-09-19T16:33:15-07:00roman forum, campo vaccino, grand tour, triumphal arch, colosseumTitle: Veduta di Campo Vaccino Key: 1. Vestigie del Tempio di Giove Tonanate 2. Vestigi del Tempio della Concordia 3. Arco di Settimio Severo 4. Antico Errario oggi Sant' Adriano 5. Tempio d’Antonino, e Faustina 6. Tempio di Romolo, e Remo, ora Santi Cosmo, e Damiano 7. Santa Francesca Romana 8. Arco di Tito 9 Vestigie del Palazzo de’ Cesari nel Palatino 10 Colonne del Tempio di Giove Statore 11 Muraglioni dei Rostri 12 Avanzi del Tablino della Casa aurea di Nerone 13 Colosseo 14 Avanzo di due Triclinj della detta Casa aurea 15 Vestigie delle Terme di Tito. Signature: Presso l’Autore a Strada Felice nel palazzo Tomati vicino alla Trinità de’ monti Signature 2: Piranesi del(ineavit). scolp(sit).Title: View of the Roman Forum Key: 1. Ruins of the Temple of Jupiter Tonans 2. Ruins of the Temple of Concord 3. Arch of Septimius Severus 4. Ancient Treasury, now called the church of Sant’Adriano 5. Temple of Antoninus and Faustina 6. Temple of Romulus, and Remus, now of the Saints Cosmas and Damian 7. Santa Francesca Romana 8. Arch of Titus 9. Ruins of Caesar’s Palace in the Palatine 10. Columns of the Temple of Jupiter Stator 11. The Walls of the Rostrum 12. Ruins of the Dining Room in the Golden House of Nero 13. Colosseum 14. Ruin of the two dining rooms of the aforementioned Golden House 15. Ruins of the Baths of Titus Signature: Published by the Author in the Strada Felice in Palazzo Tomati near Trinità de Monti. Signature 2: Designed and engraved by Piranesi.
The roman forum was and continues to be among the best-preserved sites of ancient Rome. Ruins of triumphal arches, temples, and theaters revealed the city’s multi-layered history, from its origins as the center of Roman politics, to a medieval cattle market (referred to in Piranesi’s title, Campo Vaccino [cow field]), to the site of papal processions, and finally to a hub of tourism (much as it is today). The forum was considered essential to the formal education of both artists and grand tourists and inspired many from Petrarch and Turner to Goethe and Piranesi to record their impressions in letters, prints, poems, and drawings.
Seen from above, the first among three views of the forum provides a panorama of the entire site and functioned primarily as a tourist map. Piranesi depicts and labels all of the must-see landmarks on the Grand Tour itinerary including such highlights as the Arch of Titus and the Colosseum. The print was not only a map, but it also served as an advertisement. The monuments labeled in the image and in the key were among the first that Piranesi depicted individually in the Views of Rome series (Bevilacqua, 53-60) and jumpstarted his career in the veduta genre. By pointing to these particular monuments, the print forms the visual counterpart to Piranesi's print catalog, which included the Views of Rome as well as his other works such as the Roman Antiquities. Indeed, tourists could conveniently purchase individual views or the entire series in Piranesi’s print shop only a short distance away.
The business generated by the Grand Tour is further highlighted by the prevalence of ciceroni, or tour guides hired by well-to-do tourists, that theatrically gesture to the ancient ruins throughout the print. On the right, two dilettantes stand atop a fragment— deliberately ambiguous in its composition as natural or man-made—pointing to the forum below. The cast of characters in the foreground seem to be deliberately placed so as to accentuate the juxtaposition between the neglected disjecta of ancient fragments in the foreground and the grandeur of the ancient past displayed in the background. While Piranesi's contemporaries tended to portray the forum in an idyllic manner, he places a curious emphasis on the crumbling ruins. Perhaps Piranesi sought to inspire viewers to ruminate on the idea of the ruin and the histories it embodied—a topic of particular literary and artistic fascination in the Enlightenment (Ferri, 2). The interrupted arches and broken columns could be considered a symbol of irrevocable loss, yet for Piranesi, they "invoked the invisible integrity of an absent corporeality" (Stafford 1991, 64), and a sense of permanence that resisted the ravages of time.
To see this image in Vedute di Roma, vol 17 of Piranesi’s Opere, click here.