Exhibition | Revisiting Rome: Prints of the Eighteenth Century

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by InternRW on August 27, 2016

Prospetto dell' Alma Città di Roma visto dal Monte Gianicolo

Giuseppe Vasi, Prospetto dell’ Alma Città di Roma visto dal Monte Gianicolo, ca. 1765, etching
(Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden)

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Upcoming exhibition from the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden:

Revisiting Rome: Prints of the Eighteenth Century
Begegnungen mit Rom: Druckgraphik des 18. Jahrhunderts

Dresden Royal Palace, 19 October 2016 — 15 January 2017

Folge Carceri

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Carceri episode: The round tower, ca. 1749–50, etching.

In the eighteenth century Rome was a popular travel destination. Its remains of antiquity, the Renaissance, and Baroque monuments transformed the city into a laboratory of urban and aesthetic innovation. As a location with a rich publishing tradition, Rome also had the necessary infrastructure at its disposal to effectively spread the fame of local landmarks through printed images: illustrators, engravers, and etchers met here with publishers, printers, and distributors of different nationalities.

Thanks to the international circulation of the images, most visitors to Rome had already taken a visual journey through the city. Veduta, maps or panoramas, such as those from Giuseppe Vasi, provided the viewer with an overview of the monuments. Like today’s tourist guides they offered directions on how one might explore the city.

For artists, Rome was also an inexhaustible source of inspiration for architectural fantasies, which, alongside the realistic panoramas, enjoyed a growing popularity. With these inventions, Veneto-born architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi caused something of a stir. At the time, his masterly etchings were significant in establishing Rome alongside Venice as a center of Italian printmaking.

Signor Domenico Annibali, che parla all’Eminentissimo di San Cesareo

Pier Leone Ghezzi, Signor Domenico Annibali, che parla all’Eminentissimo di San Cesareo, ca. 1749

During his lifetime, almost the entire etched œuvre of the artist made its way to the Dresden Kupferstich-Kabinett. The purchase of Piranesi’s works is only one example of the extensive and selective acquisitions of Roman printmaking that were made at the time. Piranesi’s lifespan covers roughly the same time frame as the exhibited works, which concentrate on panoramas of the ancient and modern Rome as well as unreal spaces. To this day, most of these sheets are bound in so-called collector’s albums—large format volumes that were preferred in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for the storage and presentation of print collections.

Additionally, with caricatures by Pier Leone Ghezzi the exhibition offers insights into who populated the streets of the Eternal City in the eighteenth century. Numerous Ghezzi drawings were etched by order of the Saxon Royal Court. Today these sheets are presented as a particularly charming witness of the intensive relationship between Rome and Dresden at that time.

A catalog of the same name published by Sandstein-Verlag Dresden will accompany the exhibition.

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