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Piranesi drawings (British Museum)

visions of antiquity

Sarah Vowles, Hugo Chapman


The first exploration of Piranesi’s work as a draughtsman, published to coincide with an exhibition at the British Museum


The Venetian-born artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) is best known for his dramatic etchings of the architecture and antiquities of his adopted city, Rome, and for his extraordinary flights of spatial fancy, such as Le Carceri (‘Prisons’).

Published to coincide with an exhibition at the British Museum, this original volume explores Piranesi’s skill as a draughtsman. While many studies focus on Piranesi’s activities as a printmaker, this beautifully illustrated book examines the many unanswered questions about his drawings. It establishes a clear relationship between his drawings and his prints, discuss the involvement of studio hands in his late works, and examine how his style as a draughtsman evolved. Piranesi Drawings reveals the quality and impact of the pen and chalk studies of a remarkably talented artist, as shown by the British Museum’s superb collection.

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'Piranesi’s detailed drawings reveal a mind enraptured by ancient Rome and a devotion to conjuring up its grandeur on paper'

'These glorious drawings open a window onto Piranesi’s soul. Like him, they are endlessly inventive, astonishingly original and ferocious'
Literary Review


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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with flaps

Size: 25.0 x 25.0 cm

Extent: 144 pp

Publication date: 20 February 2020

ISBN: 9780500480618

Contents List

Preface by Hugo Chapman • Introduction • Catalogue • Chronology • Notes • Bibliography

About the Author

Sarah Vowles is Hamish Swanston Curator of Italian and French Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. Hugo Chapman is Simon Sainsbury Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum.