The Building of a Symbolic Image: The Juxtaposition of Giambattista Piranesi’s Vedute Di Roma with Photographs Taken 250 Years Later

Langenbach, Randolph (2008) The Building of a Symbolic Image: The Juxtaposition of Giambattista Piranesi’s Vedute Di Roma with Photographs Taken 250 Years Later. In: 16th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium: ‘Finding the spirit of place – between the tangible and the intangible’, 29 sept – 4 oct 2008, Quebec, Canada. [Conference or Workshop Item]


Download (436kB)

Abstract (in English)

This paper discuss the making of, The Piranesi Project, a Stratigraphy of Views of Rome, a slide-video showing the engravings of Giambattista Piranesi juxtaposed with photographs of the same views today. When artists interpret and present views of historic sites in their works, the best of them can contribute to the “spirit of place” experienced at the sites themselves if their work becomes known and endures over time. Piranesi is indisputably such an artist. The creation of digital photographs of the same views as Piranesi’s famous Veduta revealed a great deal about how Piranesi composed his images in ways that can be difficult to see any other way – showing both his uncanny accuracy in rendering the monumental ruins, while also showing how he managed both to isolate and highlight the essence of each place – essentially creating a single image that so fully captured each place that this image has often remained imbued on people’s consciousness across generations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Langenbach, Randolph
Languages: English
Keywords: spirit of place; photographs; Giovanni Battista Piranesi
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 09. Historic buildings
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Roma, Italy
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2008, 16th
Depositing User: Jose Garcia
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2010 14:37
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2011 19:12
References: Arnheim, Rudolf. 1957. Film as Art. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Brooke, Steven. 1995. Views of Rome. New York: Rizzoli. Cursi, Lia Viviani. 2002. Gaspare Vanvitelli e le Origini del Vedutismo. Rome: Viviani Arte.

James Elkins. 1994. The Poetics of Perspective, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Elkins, James. 1998. Precision, Misprecision, Misprision. Critical Inquiry, Volume 25, Number 1.

Ficacci, Luigi. 2000. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Complete Etchings, Köln: Taschen.

Flaubert, Gustave. 1846. Unpublished letter to a friend. Quoted in Christopher Woodward, In Ruins, New York: Pantheon Books, 2001.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1989. Italian Journey (1786–1788). trans. Heitner, New York: Suhrkamp.

Gombrich, E. H. 1980. Standards of Truth: The Arrested Image and the Moving Eye. In W.J.T. Mitchell, Ed. The Language of Images. Chicago: The University of Chicago


Hillard, George Stillman. 1853. Six Months in Italy. Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields.

Levit, Herschel. 1976. Views of Rome Then and Now. New York: Dover.

Lüthy, Christoph. 2005. Hockney’s Secret Knowledge, Vanvitelli’s Camera Obscura. Early Science and Medicine, Volume 10, Number 2, pp. 315-339.

Phillips, Anthony. 2000. Book review of The Invention of Infinity: Mathematics and Art in the Renaissance by J. V. Field (Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), in Notices, Journal of the American Mathematical Society, Volume 47, Number 1.

Piranesi, Giambattista. 1756. Le Antichità Romane: Opera del Cavaliere Giambattista Piranesi Architto Veneziano. Roma.

Piranesi, Giambattista. 1743. Prima Parte, Prima Parte di Architetture e Prospettive [First Part of Architecture and Prospect Views]. Rome: Fratelli Pagliari.

Yourcenar, Marguerite (Richard Howard, transl.). 1962. The Dark Brain of Piranesi and other Essays, New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, translation from French, 1980.

Zimmer, A. C. 1995. Multistability – More than just a Freak Phenomenon. In P. Kruse, M. Stadler, Ambiguity in Mind and Nature. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics