Speaking Ruins: Piranesi, Architects and Antiquity in Eighteenth-Century Rome

Speaking Ruins: Piranesi, Architects and Antiquity in Eighteenth-Century Rome

by John Pinto

Hardcover(New Edition)

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As they had during the Renaissance, ruins in the eighteenth century continued to serve as places of exchange between antiquity and modern times and between one architect and another. Rome functioned as a cultural entrepôt, drawing to it architects of the caliber of Filippo Juvarra, Robert Adam, Charles-Louis Clérisseau, and Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Through their collaboration, on-site exchanges, publications, and polemics, architects contributed notably to fashioning a more critical and sophisticated view of the material heritage of classical antiquity, one that we associate with the Enlightenment and the origins of modern archaeology. In this lavishly illustrated volume stemming from his Thomas Spencer Jerome Lectures at the University of Michigan and the American Academy in Rome, distinguished architectural historian John A. Pinto traces an extraordinary path through the development of European architecture. This period saw the transformation of history and archaeology. Texts were treated more skeptically as scholars placed greater reliance on artifacts as sources of information, and architects such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi increasingly played a crucial role in the recording and visual presentation of ancient art and architecture. 

Piranesi and other eighteenth-century architects active in Rome explored the full creative potential of ancient architecture, its dual metaphorical function as both palimpsest and template. Their responses to the ruins of Rome, as well as other parts of the classical world, created a significant body of historical knowledge, but also propelled them to create new and dazzling designs, such as the Trevi Fountain, Santa Maria del Priorato, and Syon House. Their elaborate study and accurate renderings of ancient sites enriched contemporary understanding of the material heritage of classical antiquity; their informed conjectures and flights of fancy gave it wings. Their encounters on sites such as Hadrian's Villa and Pompeii, where the ruins spoke with great eloquence, greatly enriched the architectural discourse of the Enlightenment. Speaking Ruinsemphasizes the close relationship between the intensifying archaeological explorations in this period especially in Rome and vicinity, but also in Greece and the Levant, and the development of post-Baroque styles in architecture, shading gradually into romanticism and neoclassicism. 

Speaking Ruinsis an investigation of the legacy of classical antiquity. As a study of the classical tradition, it should be of particular interest to classicists and archaeologists, while its argument that eighteenth-century Rome provided a crucible for the developing disciplines of archaeology and art history will engage the interest of a wide range of humanistic scholars. Speaking Ruinstells a fascinating story, with Piranesi and his works centrally involved.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780472118212
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication date: 09/19/2012
Series: Thomas Spencer Jerome Lectures Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

John Pinto is Howard Crosby Butler Memorial Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University and a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xv

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The Perspective of Janus 11

Carlo Fontana: Architecture and Erudition 12

Filippo Juvarra: Architecture and Archaeology 32

Francesco Bianchini: Evidence and Fantasy 38

Fischer von Erlach: Architecture and History 43

Chapter 2 Taste, Ornament, and the Antique 51

Nicola Salvi and the Trevi Fountain 52

Piranesi's "New Ornaments and New Manners" 64

Santa Maria del Priorato 75

Projects for the Lateran Tribune 82

The MacDonald Monument 90

Conclusion 97

Chapter 3 Piranesi's "Speaking Ruins" 99

Piranesi's Response to Roman Architecture 100

Fragment and Fantasy 121

Piranesi and the Forma Urbis Romae 132

"Love for Antiquity": The Direct Experience of the Site 146

Chapter 4 Giovanni Battista and Francesco Piranesi: The Late Archaeological Publications 157

Hadrian's Villa 157

Lago Fucino 159

Pompeii 175

Paestum 198

Conclusion 214

Chapter 5 A Wider Prospect: Expanding the Repertoire of Classicism 217

The Formative Experience of Rome 223

Wood and Dawkins 233

Stuart and Revett 245

Robert Adam and "The Beautiful Spirit of Antiquity" 257

Conclusion 275

Bibliography 279

Index 297

Photo section following page 216

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