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

Ruins of the Antonine Baths

c. 1766
Etching, 442 x 688 mm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This etching belongs to the series Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome).

From the mid 1750s, Piranesi intensified the dramatic nature and visual impact of the panels that he was adding to his series of Vedute di Roma, adopting important innovations in his illustrative techniques, such as the aerial view of complex structures, including the Colosseum and ancient baths. The monumental emphasis of this view of the Baths of Caracalla, then known as the Antonine Baths, is emblematic of a system of representation that as well as providing perspective views, lingers over the description of materials and construction techniques.

The view of the structure is taken from the south, bypassing the slopes of Caelian Hill and embracing the churches and monasteries that stand out from the compressed profile of the mountains. The vegetation contributes to the effective rendering of the suburban setting, populated with travellers, prostitutes, and ragamuffins hiding among the ruins, lending a tragic, contemporary feel to the already melancholy nature of the ruins.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.