The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf



31 August 1778
Francesco returned home a day early after hearing about his father's recent illness episode. Piranesi was in the workshop, but not etching the Circus Maximus plan. Laura was doing the final touches there, while Piranesi was going through practically everything gathering more material for Ancient Circuses. Francesco accomplished a lot of good survey data on the Palace of the Caesars, and even brought back new survey data on the Circus of Eliogabalus. Piranesi was very pleased.
"I'm surprised those monks at Santa Croce let you work on their property. What did you have to do to get that?"
"I didn't have to do much of anything, and besides, I sleep in one monastery or another on most nights I'm not at home. I even usually stay for breakfast."
At that Piranesi literally threw a book at his son, and yelled for all to hear, "My whole family is poisoning me! Bruno, next time they serve me that soup, you'll have to taste it first."
Everyone in the workshop burst out laughinhg, including Piranesi.


31 August 1977
Wednesday     Golden House of Nero [didn't happen]     Baths of Caracalla [didn't happen]     Colosseum   San Ignazio     Pantheon     Palazzo Farnese     San Ivo [didn't happen]


















31 August 1997
Death of Princess Diana.


31 August 2012
"The Objectification of the Deterritorialized Whole[nesses]"

extreme wholeness


fertile wholeness


31 August 2022


Circuses, baths, palaces. The inventory of 1800 recalls other nuclei of graphic material on individual monuments. The circus of Maxentius, or of Caracalla is remembered in March 1775, when Sir Roger Newdigate asked Piranesi to borrow a drawing ("his Plan of the Circus of Caracalla") to make a inspection34; a large red pencil drawing with a view of the ruins of the circus [of Maxentius/Caracalla] and Cecilia Metella, which was never engraved, is preserved among the Piranesian drawings in the Uffizi35. The 150 drawings of the baths of Caracalla, Diocletian and Titus were accompanied by descriptive texts, making the hypothesis of one or more series of etchings or monographic volumes plausible, which Ridolfino Venuti also suggests, then perhaps set aside by the rapid succession, in the early 1770s, of the publications of Charles Cameron and Ludovico Mirri36. The presence of drawings from the Caprarola palace, which in the eighteenth century was a significant stable in the grand tour, and whose lasting fortune is attested by the publication of the frescoes by the Zuccari, and by the architectural plates of Giuseppe Vasi37. Vasi's commitment could suggest Piranesi's intention to enter into direct commercial competition with his main antagonist on the Roman market of the time.
Mario Bevilacqua, "Piranesi 1778. Ricerche interrotte, opere perdute" in V. Cazzato, S. Roberto, M. Bevilacqua (a cura di), Il teatro delle arti. Saggi in onore di Marcello Fagiolo per 50 anni di studi, II, Roma, Gangemi 2014, p. 796.

34. F. RUSSELL, Piranesi and Sir Roger Newdigate: a footnote, in "The Burlington Magazine", CL, 2008, p. 547. The Piranesian drawing is evidently then used by Francesco Piranesi for the large engraving in two sheets entitled "Iconography of the circus of Caracalla outside the Porta Capena in today S. Sebastiano".
35. Florence, GDSU 96011 N.A.: Il Settecento a Roma, Rome 1959, p. 179, n. 455.
36. C. CAMERON, The Baths of the Romans explained and illustrated, London 1772; V. MIRRI, Vestigia delle terme di Tito e loro interne pitture, Rome 1776. See S. PASQUALI, Tra antiquaria, nuova cartografia e nuova architettura: i grandi monumenti romani, in M. BEVILACQUA (edited by), Nolli Vasi Piranesi. Immagine di Roma antica e moderna, Rome 2004, pp. 57-63.
37. llustri fatti farnesiani coloriti nel Real Palazzo di Caprarola. Dai fratelli Taddeo, e Federico Zuccari, e disegnati, e coll'acquaforte incisi in Rame, da Georg Kaspar von Prenner, Rome 1748, to which are connected the engravings by Giuseppe Vasi with plans, sections and elevation of the building, of the 1746-48. On the fortune of Caprarola in the engraving: F. MARTINEZ MINDEGUIA, Anatomia de un dibujo. El palacio de Caprarola, de Lemercier, in "Annali di architettura", XI, 2009, pp. 115-25.



Piranesi as Designer arrived in the mail.




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