After eight years of studying the Roman ruins at numerous sites, Piranesi began his work ‘Le Antichità Romane’. Probably the most extensive work of his lifetime. He was inspired by the recently discovered ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum and his visit to the sites.
Piranesi focused his work to the ruins still visible in Rome, some almost 2,000 years old. He was fascinated by the monumental antique ruins and set his intent on documenting and reviving the ancient roman architectures (‘le antichità romane’. Title of the books). His goal was to record the vanishing parts of Rome and to inspire contemporary architects to be influences and even imitate the achievements of ancient Rome.
The Ruins and their state of neglect and despair are not solely copied, visualised, and drawn but they are actively processed and analysed and interpreted in his paintings. This happens in various ways. Amongst others/ Among other things differenced in the four Volumes.
Volume I explore the monuments of ancient Rome as they existed in 1756 in Piranesi’s eyes/ views. It shows contemporary Romans use the walls, bridges, defences, aqueducts and public monuments in their everyday lives. They visit the sights, swim under the bridges, fish off the boats sit on the stairs and take these astonishing monuments for granted as they live in their presence on a day-to-day basis.
Volumes II & III show the remains of sepulchres around Rome. Seventeenth-century nobles gleefully wander the mausoleums crypts and catacombs, exploring through coffins, skulls and the marvellous buildings. This is a place where wealthier, more established people visited. Particularly in Volume III and every so often also in Volume II the ruins and maps are composed out of Piranesi’s imagination.
Volume IV concentrates on accomplishments and Masterpieces of Roman engineering in the form of bridges and monumental structures like the Colosseum. These ruins were usually in better conditions and the plates seemed more analytical than in the previous Volumes.
In the ‘ancient roman architectures’, Piranesi paints the structures while they are still being used; The People live around them and worship them. his concept of drawing those ruins, that seemed crumbling and neglected and represent them in an appreciative, admirable, majestic way brought them back to life- at least in his books.
To name a few of those ruins; Trajan’s Column and the Chapel of St. Mary, Ponte Fabricio, Mausoleum of the Plauzia family and The Pyramid of Cestius.
Keywords: Ruins, Volumes, Author