The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project
Stephen Lauf



17 September 1778   Thursday





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

Therefore, Mr. Bianconi from the year 1772 to carry out research on it, gathering eruditions, and writing reflections, which he believed to be new and more important; and at the same time he sent an architect to the place to make the drawings of the building, which he also had engraved in copper. But whether it was through ignorance or fraud by the artist, who served several masters at the same time, it was later found that the drawings were incorrect in such a way that it behooved the author to have them redone in part by another architect, and to engrave again.

Among the most modern, which we have been able to see (e), Mr. Piranesi divulged the plan drawn by that same mercenary, who worked so sincerely for our Author, and in the same taste, that is to say, full of dreams, and of enormous blunders, fruit either of malice, or of crass ignorance, or of lightheadedness.

Both of the above passages are from Carlo Fea's "Preface" to the 1789 posthumous publication of Giovanni Lodovico Bianconi's Descrizione dei circhi, particolarmente di quello di Caracalla e dei giochi in esso celebrati. Fea finished the "Preface" at the Chigiana Library on 15 November 1789.
It is now assumed that the "architect [sent] to make the drawings" and the "mercenary, who worked so sincerely for our Author" are the same person, Pierre-Adrien PÔris. Sometime in 1772 Bianconi hired Pierre-Adrien to produce drawings of the Circus of Caracalla, and sometime in 1772 Piranesi hired Pierre-Adrien to teach his son, Francesco, architecture. There is no mention of either of these hiring events within Pierre-Adrien's 1772 Journal.
The first passage claims the drawings Pierre-Adrien produced for Bianconi were incorrect "through [either] ignorance or fraud." Judging by the Circus of Caracalla drawings published later by Pierre-Adrien, his drawing were actually not incorrect, especially the plan which was asymmetrical in the area around the starting gates.
The second passage claims "Piranesi divulged the plan drawn by that same mercenary." It's clear that Bianconi saw in Piranesi's Circus of Caracalla plan a distinct similarity to Pierre-Adrien's Circus of Caracalla plan, which means then that both plans where not incorrect. It is probably the case that Bianconi, because of the asymmetry displayed in both plans, then automatically assumed that Piranesi's plan was a copy of Pierre-Adrien's plan. Whether such is the case or not, there is no doubt that Bianconi was incorrect in rashly judging both asymmetrical circus plans as being "enormous blunders."

It remains worth remembering that it was both Piranesi and Francesco who ultimately drew the most correct and refined plans of the Circus of Caracalla, particularly in the areas of the plan's asymmetry.


47 y.o. Francesco Piranesi 1805
Le AntichitÓ della Magna Grecia   Parte III

Masons' and Farmers' Tools Found in Pompeii.
Drawn and Engraved by F. Piranesi Year 1805


17 September 1812   Thursday

Morning clear, wind S, temperature 63░. On our return from Meeting we found Dr. Logan here. He came to console with us on our recent loss and appeared to sympathize with us. He stayed dinner. We had a conversation on the present posture of our public affairs and agreed neatly in sentiment. PM I went round to the men appointed to value my land taken for Verree's road to fix a time to view it. The fixed Monday October 5th at noon. On my return I found here J Hallowell on a visit of condolence. He stays the night.


17 September 2002
Philadelphia 2026
...find out what the word is for 250th anniversary because that is the next major event year for Philadelphia and the USA.
Semiquincentennial


17 September 2011
Ichnographia Campus Martius plus ultra


The plans of the lower portion of the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio, the Capitoline Hill and the Forum Romanum actually fit together, with the data along the edges of each map slightly overlapping.


17 September 2016
Bjarke Ingels gets the Rolling Stone treatment

Readymade in Japan with Laser Print on Transparency   2002.11.29

bifocal eyeglasses or contact lenses   2003.06.10
Actually primarily not Duchamp returning from another dimension.


17 September 2017

zero nine one


17 September 2023   Sunday

On Saturday, I spoke a little about writing speculative history, essentially putting ideas out there and then seeing what's sustainable. Right now, I could pull out all such speculative ideas from The Discovery of Piranesi's Final Project, and then identify all the ideas that remain sustainable and all the ideas that have not remained sustainable.

Also talked about 'discovery' as a (scarce?) genre. Andrew straight-away brought up serendipity, as in the serendipitous discovery of LSD.

Also talked about the House of Culture, Moscow exhibition. I found out later it's better I respect "non-disclosure" with regard to what I've recently learned about the exhibition, at least until the official opening. And, truth be told, I know very little about the full extent and intent of the exhibit. For example, 'coincidence' plays a role in the exhibit, but I have no idea of how. Andrew told of a very recent coincidence coinciding with a concurrently manifesting suspicion.

Remember to write my Russian wish-list, thinking of which brings to mind the Fisher-Gregoroffsky love letters being in the TDOPFP exhibition I'm newly thinking about. It would be great if all of Mary Boone's 180 hours of community service was also in the exhibit, interspersed even.




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