Luigi Rossini (Ravenna, 1790-Rome, 1857) wanted to be an architect. He surely had the talent for it, since his biographer says he “had a strong inclination for drawing”.
A cousin of the famous composer Gioachino Rossini, Luigi moved to Bologna at sixteen to attend the fine arts academy. In 1814 he went to Rome after winning an important contest at the Academy of Saint Luke in the architecture section, as well as praise by Antonio Canova, who took him under his wing.
However, Luigi’s destiny would take a different turn: “Although he was an architect by trade, he refused to ask for anything and would have had a very hard time finding a job as an architect. He decided therefore to focus entirely on the art of engraving. Having fallen in love with Giovan Battista Piranesi’s beautiful prints […] he took them for his model.”
As the biographer goes on to explain, “without any teacher, in 1817 he published fifty etchings of the best factories in Rome from the 8th to 16th centuries […]. Then he tended to a new, grander work: one hundred and one views of ‘Roman Antiquities’. He put so much work and love in the collection that it was more refined than the previous: it earned him a considerable amount of money, and most importantly it made him quite famous” (“Operette di Filippo Mordani”, Tipografia di G. Barbera, Florence 1874).
Here is a selection of the beautiful etchings immortalizing Rome.