This year is the 300th birthday of artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (4 October 1720 – 9 November 1778), who was born in Treviso in the Republic of Venice and was brought up in Rome.
His father worked as a stonemason – but Piranesi moved to Rome in 1740 to work as a draughtsman. He was able to live at Palazzo Venezia in Rome as draughtsman to the Venetian ambassador to Pope Benedict XIV. The palazzo is situated in Piazza Venezia, adjacent to the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, in the heart of Rome.
He is generally known simply as Piranesi – and as a Neoclassical printmaker.
He is also known for his etchings of Roman architecture and the interiors of prisons – some real, some imagined. He also produced drawings of the ruins of Pompeii, which were discovered in 1748.
Piranesi opened a workshop on Via del Corso – the main thoroughfare that leads from Piazza Venezia to Piazza di Spagna – but he also visited Venice and fellow artists there from time to time.
To celebrate his 300th – and who wouldn’t want to mark such a milestone birthday? – the British Museum in London is throwing open a gallery full of his etchings in pen and chalk.
The exhibition Piranesi Drawings: visions of antiquity is free and runs from 20 February – 9 August 2020 in Room 90.
The museum’s opening hours are:
More information about the exhibition Piranesi Drawings: visions of antiquity is available at the British Museum website
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG