View of the Famous Vatican Basilica with its Spacious Portico and Adjacent Piazza, in ‘Views of Rome’
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Venice 1720 – Rome 1778)
Piranesi’s definition of the peculiar urban image, which brings together the most complete synthesis of the artist’s genius as an engraver, has influenced the way in which the urban fabric of Rome has been seen, even in modern times, through a special ability to read and interpret space. For its symbolic worth, which is the latest of his views of St Peter’s Square included in the ‘Views of Rome’ series, the artist chooses an aerial perspective, with an evocative power that would be inconceivable to our modern-day visual sensitivity. Thanks to his Venetian education, Piranesi seems to recognise, as in the work of Canaletto, the artificial nature of the view and as a result of his visionary and dreamlike power he is the perfect interpreter of Baroque spatiality. The balance between the solid symmetry of spaces and the way that the architecture gradually makes way for the open countryside on the horizon, marked only by the tenuous confines of the Vatican walls, broken down by a series of small carriages and groups of travellers, a disturbing presence in the vast square, dominated only by light, silence, and space.