Enfilade

New Book | The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps

Posted in books by Editor on October 9, 2020

From the University of Chicago Press:

Jessica Maier, The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-0226591452, $40.

One of the most visited places in the world, Rome attracts millions of tourists each year to walk its storied streets and see famous sites like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain. Yet this ancient city’s allure is due as much to its rich, unbroken history as to its extraordinary array of landmarks. Countless incarnations and eras merge in the Roman cityscape. With a history spanning nearly three millennia, no other place can quite match the resilience and reinventions of the aptly nicknamed Eternal City.

In this unique and visually engaging book, Jessica Maier considers Rome through the eyes of mapmakers and artists who have managed to capture something of its essence over the centuries. Viewing the city as not one but ten ‘Romes’, she explores how the varying maps and art reflect each era’s key themes. Ranging from modest to magnificent, the images comprise singular aesthetic monuments like paintings and grand prints as well as more popular and practical items like mass-produced tourist plans, archaeological surveys, and digitizations. The most iconic and important images of the city appear alongside relatively obscure, unassuming items that have just as much to teach us about Rome’s past. Through 140 full-color images and thoughtful overviews of each era, Maier provides an accessible, comprehensive look at Rome’s many overlapping layers of history in this landmark volume.

The first English-language book to tell Rome’s rich story through its maps, The Eternal City beautifully captures the past, present, and future of one of the most famous and enduring places on the planet.

Jessica Maier is associate professor of art history at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Rome Measured and Imagined: Early Modern Maps of the Eternal City, also published by University of Chicago Press.

C O N T E N T S

Introduction: Rome as Idea and Reality
Further Reading

1  Rome Takes Shape
Rome before Rome
A Walled City
Urban Districting
Further Reading

2  Rome of the Caesars
Destination Rome
An Incomplete Puzzle
Making Sense of the Shattered Past
Filling in the Gaps
A Model City
Further Reading

3  Rome of the Popes
Sacred Buildings and Secular Symbols
The Medieval Cityscape
Pathos and Wonder
Further Reading

4  Rome Reborn
A City Ready for Its Close-Up
The City Seen through a Wide-Angle Lens
The City Measured
A Panoramic View of Urban Revitalization
Further Reading

5  Rome of the Scholars
Archaeology in Its Infancy
An Ancient Roman Theme Park
A Ghostly Fantasy
Further Reading

6  Rome of the Saints and Pilgrims
The Way of the Faithful
Scenes from a Pilgrimage
A Pilgrimage Map for the Modern Era
Further Reading

7  Rome of the Grand Tourists
Rome as Theater
The Origins of the Tourist Plan
Rome Surveyed
A Panoramic Vision
Further Reading

8  Rome of the Mass Tourists
The Guidebook Impresario’s Rome
Rome for a Rather Important Woman Traveler
Rome in Your Pocket
Rome for Italian Tourists
Further Reading

9  Rome Enters the Modern Age
2,500 Years in, a Master Plan for Rome
When Trams Ruled Rome
An Olympic City, and a New Beginning
Further Reading

10  Rome Past, Present, and Future
Rapid Transit for a Rapidly Changing City
A Master Plan for the Third Millennium: (Un)sustainable Rome
Further Reading

Acknowledgments
Index

 

Exhibition | The Piranesi Principle

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 9, 2020

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Colosseum in Rome, Bird’s Eye View from the North, ca. 1760–70
(Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek / Dietmar Katz)

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A very brief posting appeared here at Enfilade in February. Here’s the expanded version; from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin:

The Piranesi Principle: Marking the 300th Birthday of the Great Italian Master
Das Piranesi-Prinzip: Zum 300. Geburtstag des großen italienischen Meisters

Kunstbibliothek, Berlin, 4 October 2020 — 7 February 2021

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) was one of the great polymaths of the 18th century. He carved out an international career as an archaeologist, artist, collector, designer, publisher and author. The principle behind his success was to grasp the multifaceted nature of reality and transform it into something new. He found inspiration everywhere: in the artifacts of bygone epochs and faraway regions, in images from science, technology and opera, and even in denunciations and defeats. This exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of his birth brings this Piranesi principle back to life in all its creativity. It is centred around Piranesi’s masterpieces of engraving, his books, pamphlets, satirical illustrations, and drawings from the collections of the Kunstbibliothek and the Kupferstichkabinett, some of which are being shown for the very first time.

Piranesi’s Rome

The exhibition begins with a trip back through time to Piranesi’s Rome. While today’s tourists marvel at the city’s ancient ruins in an urban setting, in the 18th century the Venetian-born artist lived and worked in a city surrounded by a landscape of ruins, in which monuments overgrown by plants protruded from the ground. It was in this context that Piranesi found the motifs for his images and architectural visions, collected artefacts for his ‘Museo’, and conducted research into art and architectural history—the results of which he published in monumental works such as the Antichità Romane (1756). And it was here that he found his clientele and his audience: artists, art scholars, archaeologists, antiques and art dealers came from all over the world to make their fortune in the ‘eternal city’—or, like Piranesi himself—to earn their immortality.

Piranesi’s Stage

Opera and theatre have been influential mass media since the Baroque era. Performances took place not only in private residences, but also on the street and in public squares, where religious festivities were staged as elaborate spectacles. In the 18th century, theatre was a big business, for which artists designed stage sets and decorations, and in doing so revolutionised the viewing habits of their audiences. Piranesi, who had already become acquainted with this scene in Venice, picked up on these ideas and used them to dramatise his compositions. Both his Vedute (Views) and his famous Carceri (Prisons) largely owe their magic to the influence of the theatre of the time.

Piranesi’s Laboratory

As well as the dream factory of theatre, the technical imagery of the sciences was another a source of great fascination for Piranesi. Imagining his workshop as a laboratory, he experimented with creating futuristic images in order to find ways to communicate the findings of his research on archaeology and art with scholars and the public alike. In the section Piranesi’s Laboratory, the exhibition focuses on the monumental display panels, reconstructions and maps that made him famous within the sciences far beyond Italy, and saw him named a member of the Society of Antiquaries in London in 1757 and an honorary member of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1761. His images are ground-breaking and ahead of their time above all because of their resemblance to a computer desktop featuring a multitude of windows open simultaneously. They succeeded in sealing Piranesi’s status as a pioneer of visual communication.

Piranesi’s Palazzo

This section takes viewers to the central site of his work: Palazzo Tomati, not far from the Spanish steps, where Piranesi resided from 1761 onwards, ran a large workshop, and opened his ‘Museo’ (a warehouse of antiques and self-manufactured objects) to tourists and art scholars. The drawings by Piranesi that are held by the Kunstbibliothek, including his renowned fireplace designs, provide important information about his work process. Piranesi was open to everything: he drew on both Roman and Egyptian antiquity, Etruscan and Greek art, and often came up with daring hybrid forms. Even the wastepaper in his studio provided points of departure and stimulus for his creative processes. Recycling and re-using were part of his daily routine in the workshop, especially as paper was a valuable resource. The exhibition makes evident how the recto and verso of his prints, drawings and notes were used over and over again for new sketches.

Piranesi’s Arena

Finally, in the section Piranesi’s Arena, the exhibition presents Piranesi as a polarising figure in the international art scene. Four people in his life are presented to exemplify this tension, beginning with fellow Venetian Pope Clement XIII (1693­–1769), who was particularly important due to his role as a patron, and then looking at three antagonists who infuriated Piranesi to such an extent that he resorted to unusual artistic weapons. He dedicated an entire publication to taking down the argument of French art scholar Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694­–1774), who had questioned the significance of Roman antiquity, with words and pictures. The name of his Irish patron, Lord Charlemont (1728–1799), who had withdrawn funding for one of his largest projects, was visually erased from public memory. And to express his displeasure in a dispute with French archaeologist Bertrand Capmartin de Chaupy (1720–1798), he produced a detailed and masterfully elaborate depiction of his own excrement.

An exhibition of the Kunstbibliothek – Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in cooperation with the Kupferstichkabinett – Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

The exhibition and catalogue were jointly conceived by students, curators, and researchers at the Kunstbibliothek and the Department for Art and Visual History at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. An exhibition catalogue, edited by Georg Schelbert and Moritz Wullen, will be published by E.A. Seemann Verlag, Leipzig, 144 pages, 135 colour illustrations, ISBN 978-3865024435 (German edition), 978-3865024442 (English edition), €27.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Vignette: Satire targeting Bertrand Capmartin De Chaupy, 1769
(Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek / Dietmar Katz)