Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 17201778)
Etching, plate 49 of Antichità Romane, vol. 3, first edition
Rogers Fund, transferred from the Library, 1941 (184.108.40.206.49)
While Piranesi's Vedute record the present appearance of the relics of antiquity, he also dug deeper, investigating the engineering feats of the ancient Romans and attempting to reconstruct the former appearance of the ancient city. His Antichità Romane of 1756, a four-volume work that won him admittance to the British Society of Antiquarians, includes maps of the ancient walls and aqueduct system and a thorough investigation of Roman burial customs. The third volume illustrates the sepulchral monuments of the Via Appia Antica, including six plates devoted to the tomb of Cecilia Metella. In plate 49, Piranesi combines a number of viewsan elevation, a plan, a cross-section, details of the masonry constructionto create a handsomely designed and informative page.