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Gianbattista Piranesi
Mozano di Mestre, Venice 1720 – 1778 Rome

The Monumental Tablet

Gianbattista Piranesi, Mozano di Mestre, Venice 1720 – 1778 Rome. The Monumental Tablet. Original etching, c1747.

The Monumental Tablet
Robison 24 iii/iv
387 x 538 mm
Original etching, 1747.
The plate signed.
With the posthumous plate number 27 (but before the later additional number 348) as issued from c1790 onwards.
Traces of the usual central fold.

£800

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Additional Information about the Print

The Grotteschi
A series of four decorative fantasies, only published as a separate work in the first issue, 1747-49. The subsequent issues were in combination with other prints from different series, published in either the Opere Varie or Le Magnificenze.

Capriccio compositions, evocative of the passage of time and inevitable decay, with antique architectual and sculptural fragments amidst bursts of foliage, body parts, skulls, snakes, even in one plate an artist’s palette and brushes, yet portrayed with a certain light-heartedness.

Some elements show the influence of Tiepolo, whose Capricci were first published in 1742. Piranesi etched his Grotteschi immediately after his return to Rome from his near two year-long sojourn back in Venice, 1745-47.

Gianbattista Piranesi, Mozano di Mestre, Venice 1720 – 1778 Rome. The Monumental Tablet. Original etching, c1747.

The composition of The Monumental Tablet, though without lettering on the obvious blank tablet itself, was presumably intended as the title plate to the Grotteschi series; and in early issues it was placed first or second in the sequence; but from the late 1760’s it was always the last in the series.

A face of the block of stone in the top left corner has lettering suggestive of a title, though the words are difficult to decipher accurately, but appear to include QATRI FOGLIE A (four leaves to) - and in a lower line ALLEGREMANTE (cheerfully).

Gianbattista Piranesi, Mozano di Mestre, Venice 1720 – 1778 Rome. The Monumental Tablet. Original etching, c1747. Detail

The entire composition looks as though it is ‘drawn’ on a cloth, perhaps a theatrical backdrop, and Robison comments on the spatial ambiguities Piranesi puts in play, both within the subject and in continuing it in places beyond and ignoring the confines of the cloth.

There is a related drawing in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.