Here is a gallery of engravings Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) made to exalt the magnificence of ancient Roman architectures despite their state of neglect and disrepair.
Piranesi clearly aimed to highlight the superiority of Etruscan and Roman architecture over the Greeks’, challenging the position upheld by German art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann at the time.
The images we are showcasing here are taken from 1784 “Le Antichità romane, opera del Cavaliere Giambattista Piranesi, architetto veneziano, divisa in quattro tomi”, published in Rome by Stamperia Salomoni in Piazza Sant’Ignazio (after a first edition in 1756), and currently kept at the Universitätsbibliothek in Heidelberg, Germany.
"View of the entrance of the sepulchral chamber belonging to L. Arrunzio and his family"
"View of another side of the sepulchral chamber belonging to L. Arrunzio"
"View of the sepulchral chamber a stone's throw from the L. Arrunzio family's"
"View of the remains of the sepulcher believed to be of the Scipiones, ouside Porta San Sebastiano, above the ancient Via Appia, in the vineyard opposite the 'Domine quo vaadis' Church" (Priscilla's Tomb)
"View of an ancient sepulcher in a vineyard on the way to Tivoli"
"View from the outside of the three sepulchral chambers believed to be of Augustus's family"
"View inside the sepulchral chamber in the Casali vineyard in Porta San Sebastiano"
"View of the ruins of an ancient ustrinum along the Appia Antica"
"View of the ruins of the mausoleums and factories along the Via Appia"
"View of a large rock, a ruin of the De' Metelli family sepulchre along the Via Appia"
"View of the ruins of the Saint Helen mausoleum along Via Labicana"
"Large porphyry urn with its lid, found in Sain Helen's mausoleum"
"Section of the sepulchral chamber of the freedmen and servants of Augustus's family"
"Part of the façade of Cecilia Metella's sepulcher"
"Vindicibus et protectoribus bonarum artium"
"View of the bridge and mausoleum built by Emperor Hadrian"
"View of part of the foundations of the Theater of Marcellus"