Re: to Cynthia Davidson re The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
In my last email to you, sent Friday, 3 June, I wrote, “…there simply are no texts that can explain the subject matter.” Well, I’ve since found a short text describing two volumes of plates and explanations that were to be eventually published:
Plans, details and division of the
Hadrian, still unpublished.
The Circus of Caracalla [which is what the Circus of Maxentius was mistakenly referred to in Piranesi’s time] being the best preserved, we will give the geometric and perspective details, the various restorations, the bleachers, the enclosure around which the chariot race took place, the boxes intended for the magistrates and the emperors. (The latter often took pleasure in racing themselves, driving a quadriga, four-horse chariot); the enclosure from which the tanks left. Besides the ornaments, etc., the bas-reliefs will also be mentioned, in order to make known more positively the uses and the manners adopted for the race. Curious and interesting work.
A volume containing 120 plates
A volume of explanations.
Although this passage was published in 1804 by Francesco once he and his younger brother Pietro were established in Paris, I firmly believe the words themselves were written by Giovanni Battista Piranesi sometime in the months before his death.