Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Architect, draughtsman, theorist, and engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an influential figure in the development of Neoclassicism. Giambattista’s initial pursuits were in architecture, for which he was apprenticed to his uncle Matteo Lucchesi. He later turned to etching and studied with Carlo Zucchi before traveling to Rome in 1740. It was in Rome that Piranesi produced his first popular etchings, and became famous for his depictions of ancient ruins and imaginary reconstructions of Roman architecture. One of his earliest collections, “Carceri d’Invenzione,” was published in 1745 and featured depictions of imaginary prisons based on existing Roman ruins. Though he was known as an engraver during his life, Piranesi also supported himself by dealing and restoring Roman antiquities.
Piranesi had a lifelong interest in archaeology, and published treatises on the subject such as, “Trofei di Archi Trionfoni” (1748) and, “Antichita Romane de ‘tempi della Republica’ primi Imperatori Ottaviano” (1756). Near the end of his life, he traveled to southern Italy to pursue of his archaeological interests, and began producing images of Greek architecture.