The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf



2 September 1778   Wednesday

Francesco etches critical dimensions onto the Circus of Caracalla site plan. These numbers will be used when figuring out the proportions and dimensions of the new circus plans to be etched throughout Ichnographia Campus Martius.


Artifacts of the Bianconi vs Piranesi 'Circus of Caracalla' affair   1772-1789

The two slight angular notches in the plan of the circus's southern wall are precisely what distinguish Giovanni Battista Piranesi's and Francesco Piranesi's plans of the Circus of Caracalla from all the other Circus of Caracalla plans drawn in the 1770s and 1780s. It was also an earlier version of this critical refinement of the circus plan that led Bianconi to reject the circa 1774 PÔris/Piranesi plan. As far as Bianconi was concerned, the circus plan was, according to canon, supposed to be symmetrical like the plans of all other classical buildings.
It seems odd to think that a such a slightly deviating detail could manifest a momentous dispute. Yet, to be honest, I've often seen present day architects get into heated arguments over "slightly deviating details."
Plus ša change, plus c'est la mŕme chose.     Allez comprendre.


48 y.o. Francesco Piranesi 1806
Le AntichitÓ della Magna Grecia   Parte II

Perspective of the Temple of Isis, and of the small Egyptian Temple as they are today, as well as of a portion of the Atrium which surrounds them.
Drawn by G.B. Piranesi
Engraved by F. Piranesi Year 1806


2 September 1812   Wednessday

Morning foggy, wind S westerly, temperature about 70░, rose to 80░. Wind continued all day fresh from about S. About 8 in the evening shifted to NW when a cloud passing over dropped a little rain.


2 September 1977
Friday. Mohammad and I decided to go back to stay at the Villa HÚlŔna while the others wanted to stay at the hostel. The whole group of us spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon at the US Embassy in Rome. The point of this was for all of us to get a flight back to the United States without having to pay again. By the end of the day we learned that we would all be on free stand-by for a commercial flight leaving Rome on Monday.


2 September 2004

Virtual Museum 269


2 September 2022

Francesco Piranesi, 'Icnografia del Circo de Caracalla fuori della Porta Capena in oggi S. Sebastiano' in Opere varie (Getty Research Institute), circa 1786.
It was through reading/translating Mario Bevilacqua's "Piranesi 1778. Ricerche interrotte, opere perdute" that I first learned of Sir Roger Newdigate and the 1775 existence of a Circus of Caracalla plan by Piranesi. Bevilacqua assumed that the plan in question was basically the same as the Circus of Caracalla plan published by Francesco in 1786. Since Newdigate mentions he "saw the Temple & Portico and examined the circus till past 4," he very likely borrowed an early version of the Circus of Caracalla site plan, which, in a more complete state, Francesco eventually appended to Le AntichitÓ Romane vol. 1 circa 1787.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (attributed), 'Pianta degli avanzi di un 'antica Villa, sue Fabbriche, e Circo volgarmente detto di Caracalla fuori di porta S. Sebastiano' first state, circa 1775-78 in Le AntichitÓ Romane vol. 1 (Universitńtsbibliothek Heidelberg), 1787.


2 September 2023   Saturday

Tour for a visiting King: after Franklin Court go to Welcome Park, and then to Christ's Church, and then the Arch Street Friends Meeting House. Take a stroll down to Congress Hall to see the first United States Senate and House of Representatives (and compare the interior of Arch Street Friends Meeting House with the House of Representatives). Then take a look at the Egyptian Revival facade, go to the Philadelphia Exchange, and ultimately something controversial, the Christopher Columbus Obelisk.

Bianconi's Doctoring Piranesi
episode 1: "Who's not an Imperial Piranesian?"
episode 2: "Discovery Fatigue"
episode 3: "...and now they're trying to weaponize it."
episode 4: "The Peace of the Pie"
episode 5: "Nowadays they call it 'going out on a dÚtente'"
episode 6: "Bianconi's Banishment"
episode 7: "When in Rome: The Francesco and Louis-Alexandre Story"
episode 8: "Making Art History at Penn's Furness Library"


The heart and soul of the Bianconi vs Piranesi 'Circus of Caracalla' affair is the Piranesi and PÔris 'Circus of Caracalla' affair. Piranesi employed PÔris to mentor Francesco, and Piranesi 'paid' PÔris by mentoring PÔris--that was the basic concept of their arrangement--very electro-magnetic in that what the heart pumps is what makes the heart pump. Piranesi, PÔris, and Francesco worked as a kind-of perpetual motion machine.

Did PÔris keep in touch with Piranesi and/or Francesco (and vice versa)?

PÔris outlived both Piranesi and Francesco, and he went quite far in life.


Franšois-AndrÚ Vincent   Portrait of Pierre-Adrien PÔris   1774




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