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Gianbattista Piranesi
Mozano di Mestre, Venice 1720 – 1778 Rome

The Saw Horse

Gianbattista Piranesi, Mozano di Mestre, Venice 1720 – 1778 Rome. The Saw Horse. Original etching, c1749-70.

The Saw Horse
Plate XII of the Carceri d’Invenzione
Robison 38 v/vi
410 x 556 mm
Original etching, c1749-70.
Fifth state, with the letter ‘C’ added before Piranesi’s signature.
C for Cavaliere (knight), after the etcher was created Cavaliere dello Speron d'oro (Knight of the Golden Spur) by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, issued thus from the mid-1770’s onwards.
On French paper with Robison’s watermark No. 79, so from the fourth edition (the first Paris edition) issued 1800-1809.
Trace of the usual central fold.


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Additional Information about the Print

The Carceri
Among Piranesi’s earliest plates, perhaps begun in Venice during his two year return to the city, 1645-47, were the first states of fourteen of the Carceri. Capricci inventions very much related to his Venetian origins and early theatrical stage training. The first edition was published for Piranesi by Bouchard & Gravier in Rome, in three issues between 1749 and 1760, with the title Invenzioni capric di Carceri.

Early in the 1760’s and in the following years Piranesi reworked the plates extensively through a succession of states, influenced by his response to Roman architecture, making them darker, and introducing dramatic new motifs, related to punishment and torture, into their composition. He etched two further plates and published the series with the title Carceri d’Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons). This second edition, which appeared in three successive issues between 1761 and the early 1770’s, was published by Piranesi himself, after his move to new large premises in the Palazzo Tomati; and there were later editions to follow.

Of his architectural fantasies, Piranesi commented

The speaking ruins have filled my spirit with images that accurate drawings could never have succeeded in conveying.

Gianbattista Piranesi, Mozano di Mestre, Venice 1720 – 1778 Rome. The Saw Horse. Original etching, c1749-70.

Prints from The Carceri in this exhibition are: