Giovanni Battista Piranesi

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian graphic artist famous for his engravings and etchings. He created more than 2000 prints of real and imaginary buildings, statues, and ornaments. He contributed to 18th-century neoclassicism by his enthusiastic renderings of ancient Roman monuments, which included both accurate portrayals of existing ruins and imaginary reconstructions of ancient buildings in which alterations of scale and juxtaposition of elements enhance the sense of grandeur. One of Piranesi's earliest and most lastingly renowned collections is his Carceri d'Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons, 1745; 2nd edition, 1760), in which he transformed Roman ruins into fantastic, immeasurable dungeons dominated by immense, gloomy arcades, staircases rising to incredible heights, and bizarre galleries leading nowhere. These engravings became an important influence on 19th-century romanticism and also played a role in the development of 20th-century surrealism.

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