The Round Tower, from the cycle Carceri

Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Giovanni Battista Piranesi - The Round Tower, from the cycle Carceri
The Cylindrical Tower belongs with the finest plates from the Carceri (The Prison) series of etchings, which now represents Piranesi’s most famous work. The series comprises fourteen etchings (sixteen in the second edition) depicting imaginary prison architecture dominated by massive pillars and arches, bridges and suspended walkways, diagonals and spirals of steep, over−dimensioned stairs, long galleries and windows with iron grilles. Massive chains and ropes rigged through pulleys hang from sheer heights, an array of rods, fetters and breaking wheels menacingly protrude into space. The endless fantastic tangle of architectural elements creates an oppressively disconcerting, yet at once fascinating atmosphere that has always received considerable attention and various interpretations regarding the depicted elements’ hidden meanings. Piranesi’s archaeological interest in ancient monuments had also been a source of inspiration for the Carceri series. Even so, these are not representations of real architecture but so−called capricci – fictitious prison settings of ancient Rome. Piranesi spent over fifteen years working on the etchings of the series that he re−worked in the second edition. The prints of the first edition differ from the later etchings in their sketchy handling and lighter colouration. The compositions of the second edition are more detailed in execution, enriched with further objects and are also noticeably darker. The National Gallery in Prague owns eight prints from the second edition issued in 1761.
measurements: height 805 mm
width 570 mm
in collections:
material: paper
technique: etching, engraving, state V
inventory number: R 168266
gallery collection: Collection of Prints and Drawings

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