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Capriccio print

“Veduta del second’ardine di una parte della Calcidica del Foro di Trajano,” Tav. I Fig. XXIX, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, 1756, etching, Gift of Christopher Matthaei,  2015.20.8.

This image depicts the ruins of the Trajan forum, which was completed in 112 C.E. by the Roman Emperor Trajan to celebrate the Roman victory over the Dacians. Several figures occupy the space in the foreground either standing or reclining in the open area. The artist, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, always considered himself to be an architect though he had acquired some training in painting and stage design; he studied under many renowned architects of his time included his maternal uncle, Lucchesi, and others like Scalfarotto and Giuseppe and Dominco Valeriani. Piranesi is often noted for having worked in the style of Claude Lorraine and the capricci. “Capriccio,” in painting, means fanciful images of architecture, often specifically antiquarian structures and ruins. This print eludes to this style in that it does not isolate the ruins of the forum but rather incorporates them into a cityscape.

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