"Observations on the Letter of Monsieur Mariette" by . Piranesi

Observations on the Letter of Monsieur Mariette . Piranesi

Getty Publications - (Yale)
Paperback / softback
Publication date:
31 Mar 2006
Getty Research Institute,U.S.
168 pages: 252 x 178 x 13mm
43 b&w illustrations


Published in 1765, Giovanni Battista Piranesi's "Osservazioni" is an impassioned defence of the superiority of Roman architectural "invention" over the "beautiful and noble simplicity" of Ancient Greece. In this three-part polemical work, the engraver and designer not only praises the structural audacity of Etruscan architecture and contends that the Etruscans - not the Greeks - were the artistic mentors of the Romans, but also argues for a Roman-inspired exuberance in design that draws freely on all forms and traditions of ancient art. Although Piranesi's essentially Baroque vision set him at odds with the austere aesthetics of Neoclassicism, his ideas were inspirational to such gifted 18th-century architects as Robert Adam, John Soane, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, and Etienne-Louis Boullee. Piranesi's plea for imaginative eclecticism remains topical, as practitioners and theorists continue to debate the relative merits of a rational and minimal architecture versus an architecture rich in ornament and historical references.