PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista
(b. 1720, Mestre, d. 1778, Roma)

View of the Nave, San Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome

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Etching
Private collection

This prirnt shows the nave of San Paolo fuori le Mura in Rome prior to the fire of 1823.

Pope Leo the Great (440-461) renovated the basilica which had been built in the late fourth century. The paintings in the nave were part of these renovations, and they introduced a decorative scheme that would be imitated into the High Middle Ages not only in Rome itself but in many places in its vicinity and more distant surroundings. A fire in 1823 destroyed the stately building as well as the frescoes, but the individual scenes and figures depicted there, as well as their sequence, have been preserved in paintings, drawings, and engravings.