Carceri d'Invenzione or Imaginary Prisons
Initially published anonymously in 1750, Piranesi reissued his collection of prison prints; Carceri d’Invenzione under his own name in 1761. For this second state Piranesi drastically revised the images and etched them much more deeply, enhancing the dramatic effect.
It is a series of 16 prints, depicting enormous subterranean vaults with stairs and mighty machines.
Light, shade and spatial illusion
As with his city landscapes (Le Vedute di Roma), Piranesi’s obsession with architecture and light and shade can be seen in Carceri d’Invenzione. But the fictional settings allowed him to experiment further; bending perspective and spatial illusion to create images that are fascinating yet often bewildering to look upon.
The plates evoke immense buildings through which stairs wind endlessly and a person as a minuscule detail that becomes increasingly insignificant. The hallucinatory character of these works is enhanced by the fact that the perspective makes the scene more and more complicated and impenetrable.
In 1803, Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother and King of Naples (from 1806-1808) and later the King of Spain (from 1808-1813), donated Piranesi’s original etchings to the Ghent library.
Our Piranesi collection gives you the opportunity to own prints created directly from the original editions of this renowned artist’s masterpieces.
With 16 black and white prints in the collection, evocative yet often chilling titles include The Man on the Rack and The Pier with Chains.