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Piranesi

Piranesi

I need to produce great ideas, and I believe that if I were commissioned to design a new universe, I would be mad enough to undertake it."

This statement by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, reported by one of his early biographers, in many ways sums up the man whose dreams of antiquity so often surpassed reality, from his earliest etchings of architectural fantasies to the fanciful restorations of ancient remains that he produced at the end of his career. One of the greatest printmakers of the eighteenth century, Piranesi always considered himself an architect


. The son of a stonemason and master builder, he received practical training in structural and hydraulic engineering from a maternal uncle who was employed by the Venetian waterworks, while his brother, a Carthusian monk, fired the aspiring architect with enthusiasm for the history and achievements of the ancient Romans. Piranesi also received a thorough background in perspective construction and stage design. Although he had limited success in attracting architectural commissions, this diverse training served him well in the profession that would establish his fame.

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