View of the Piazza di Spagna, in ‘Views of Rome’
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Venice 1720 – Rome 1778)
The wealth of pieces by Piranesi includes a series of etchings of great “Views of Rome”, begun around 1747 and continually increased to a total of 138 panels. It is the artist’s best-known and most successful work. It became a means for systematic diffusion of the grandiloquent image of Papal Rome and the haunting, grandiose nature of its “talking ruins”. In an expanding print market, where competition was rife when it came to urban scenes, Piranesi’s work became a means to convey a new vision of the city and its stories.
By careful choice of a specific viewpoint to represent one of the places that best evokes the “modern” city, this view has a visual axis along the Via del Babuino and perspective focus in the Fontana della Barcaccia, by Bernini. The particular angle of the frame, emphasised by the light falling from the slopes of the “Pincio”, adds a scenographic touch to the Piazza di Spagna, already a focus destination for international tourism, artistic production and the art and antiques market, a crossroad for collectors and travellers from all over Europe.