GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIRANESI, (Candelabrum), Plate 107, c. 1768-1778.

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)

(Candelabrum), Plate 107
From: Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sacrofagi, Tripodi Lucerne ed ornamenti antichi
Rome, 1778
Paper size: 21" x 31"

Remarkable, original engraving from a work entitled Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sacrofagi, Tripodi Lucerne ed ornamenti antichi by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. This work was compiled and published in Rome in 1778. Piranesi had begun the etchings for the plates in this work as early as 1768. As an aside to his print business, Piranesi also dealt in antiquities with some of the leading aristocrats of the time. As certain beautiful and valuable possessions passed through his hands, he took the opportunity to etch depictive plates of these objects. Finally, in 1778, he compiled these plates into Vasi, Candelabri... These plates come from that work. The images are engraved on fine, laid paper.

Piranesi's engravings are perhaps among the finest printed works produced in the eighteenth century. His work has been continuously sought after from the time of publication to the present day.

An example of this plate can be found on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

An excerpt from the Met's descrition follows:

This elaborate candelabrum, now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, represents one of Piranesi's more creative "restorations." Produced during a period when Piranesi was collaborating with the Scottish painter Gavin Hamilton in the restoration and sale of antiquities—many uncovered in the excavations at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli—it combines a number of diverse ancient fragments to create a new work. More 'Piranesi' than ancient in its effect, this assemblage exemplifies the artist's belief in the freedom of designers to draw from a variety of sources to enrich their invention. A similarly fantastic candelabrum, now in the Louvre, formerly served as an ornament to Piranesi's own tomb. The handsome series of etchings after ancient vases, candelabra, funerary urns, and other recently excavated decorative objects—some less extensively restored—served to advertise wares available in Piranesi's workshop as well as to document rare pieces that were leaving the country, such as the Warwick Vase.

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