The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf



7 September 1778   Monday

Another problem: Acording to Livy there was an altar of Neptune within the Circus Flaminius. That altar has now been erased from the Ichnographia copper plate, and Piranesi's not exactly sure how to incorporate the altar within a newly designed Circus Flaminius plan. Neptunus Equester was a god of horses and horsemanship, as well as patron of horse racing, after all.


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

Page 194 of Le Cabinet de Pierre-Adrien PÔris: Architectture, Sessinatur des Menus-Plaisirs, 2008.

September 1771 - November 1774
First stay in Italy
1771
PÔris left Paris in September, accompanied by Louis-Alexandre Trouard, aged 12, whom his father Louis-Franšois entrusted to him.
Journey via Lyons, Genoa, Pisa, Florence and Siena, arriving in Rome on October 27. PÔris benefits exceptionally from accommodation at the palace Mancini (then headquarters of the Academie de France).
1772
PÔris officially becomes a resident of the French Academy in Rome.
1772-1774
PÔris draws with architects Jean-Arnaud Raymond, Jean-Jacob Guerne and Bernard Poyet, Swedish architect Fredric Adolf Cronstedt, painters Franšois-AndrÚ Vincent, Jean-Simon BerthÚlerny, Joseph-BarthÚlemy Le Bouteux (who initiated him drawing views) and Jean-Pierre-Laurent HouŰl.
PÔris rubbed shoulders with sculptors Franšois-Nicolas Delaistre and Jean-Guillaume Moitte.
He meets the German painters Wilhelm Tischbein and the brothers Jakob Philipp and Friedrich Wilhelm Hackert.
Numerous studies of ancient and modern monuments in Rome and its surroundings (Frascati, Tivoli and Caprarola in particular), of which PÔris sent several items to Paris. Beginnings of a collection of drawings and counter-proofs of his comrades.
PÔris frequents the circles of artists and amateurs around Charles Natoire, director of the Academie, and Jacques-Laure Le Tonnelier, bailiff of Breteuil, ambassador of the Order of Malta (protector of Hubert Robert).
Paris teaches architecture to Francesco Piranesi, son of the great Piranesi.
1772
Charles De Wailly hires PÔris as a draftsman for the Spinola Palace salon project in Genoa, in collaboration with Antoine-Franšois Callet.
December 1773 - April 1774
Paris guides Pierre-Jacques OnÚsyrne Bergeret de Grancourt, Receiver General of Finance, staying in Rome with Jean-HonorÚ Fragonard.
July - September 1774
Paris travels to southern Italy and visits Capua, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum.
October - November 1774
Return trip to France via Bologna, Venice, Verona, Milan, Turin and CharnbÚry; PÔris studies in Veneto the buildings of Andrea Palladio.

The only mention of Piranesi is with regard to PÔris teaching architecture to Francesco, and it appears the only source of this information is Legrand's unpublished biography of G.B. Piranesi commissioned by Francesco circa 1802.

"PÔris also had close relations with G.B. Piranesi. We saw PÔris exchanging engravings at his home on September 1, 1772. But the obvious sign of the familiarity of their relationship, as well as the esteem that Piranesi had for the young French architect, is that he entrusted him with the architectural education of his son Francesco. In the "Historical note on the life and works of G.B. Piranesi" by J.G. Legrand, we find the following two pieces of information: "He [Francesco] had, when it comes to architecture, made serious studies under PÔris, a learned French architect then resident in Rome, and whom the love of the arts and distinguished talents had closely linked with G.B. Piranesi," and "He [Giovanni Battista] did not neglect his [Francesco's] education and this child could hardly read when Piranesi put in his hands Roman history as a reward, he told him only of the great deeds of Scipios, Fabius, Catos and other illustrious Romans whose language he wanted him to learn at the same time as the elements of drawing and the principles of architecture, and as he did not have the patience to give these first lessons himself, he sent him assiduously to the AcadÚmie de France and congratulated him every day on the honor he had of being born Roman [...]." The choice of PÔris can certainly be explained by the talents of our architect, and by the common taste of the two artists for antiquity, but the fact that PÔris, at the same time, taught architecture to the young Trouard was certainly decisive. Paris had obviously stood out as a pedagogue, and Piranesi took advantage of it. Francesco and Louis-Alexandre were also about the same age, 14 and 13 years old."
Pierre Pinon, Pierre-Adrien PÔris architecte (1745-1819) ou l'archÚologie malgrÚ soi (doctoral thesis, 1997), pp. 41-2.

As far as I can tell, Pierre-Adrien made no record of having taught Francesco, nor did Piranesi record his employment of Pierre-Adrien. Piranesi and Pierre-Adrien are silent, and Francesco remained silent until around 1802. Assuming Francesco was telling the truth, then it may also be unusual for no one else to have made a record of Pierre-Adrien teaching Francesco, yet surely Louis-Alexandre Trouard would have known. Nonetheless, there is abundant silence surrounding Piranesi's employment of Pierre-Adrien.

Note, too, there is no mention of Bianconi within the above biographical sketch of PÔris's first stay in Italy.


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

White and black mosaic pavement which adorns the cell of the Temple of Isis, and large inscription which was on the door of its enclosure.
Drawn by G.B. Piranesi
Engraved by F. Piranesi Year 1806


7 September 1812   Monday

Much rain and heavy in the night. Morning cloudy, wind NE, temperature 62░. Lydia and I go to town this forenoon--reached it a little after 12. Dined at SL's. PM I stayed within writing a long letter to Benjamin Warner who has arrived at Richmond on is way home, but expects to be detained 4 or 5 weeks. Weather cloudy, wind NE, temperature rose to 73░--evening 60░.


7 September 1997
Diana/Triumphal Way etc.


7 September 2003

Virtual Museum 117


7 September 2017

zero eight five


zero eight six


7 September 2023   Thursday

At night, I finished watching Arrival on Netflix:

Ian Donnelly: If you immerse yourself into a foreign language, then you can actually rewire your brain.
Louise Banks: Yeah, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. It's the theory that the language you speak determines how you think and...
Ian Donnelly: Yeah, it affects how you see everything.

This reminds me of what it was like learning the 'language' of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius--a language of building plans and their Latin labels, different than learning a language of text. The language of Piranesi's final project is also largely a language of building plans, and only minimally a language of texts.

Louise Banks: The weapon is their language. They gave it all to us. Do you understand what that means?
Colonel Weber: So we can learn heptapod. If we survive.
Louise Banks: If you learn it, when you really learn it, you begin to perceive time the way that they do. So you can see what's to come. But time, it isn't the same for them. It's non-linear.




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