The Piazza del Popolo (Veduta della Piazza del Popolo)

Series/Portfolio: Vedute di Roma

Artist: Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, Mogliano Veneto 1720–1778 Rome)

Date: ca. 1750

Medium: Etching

Dimensions: image: 14 15/16 x 21 1/4 in. (38 x 54 cm)

Classifications: Prints, Ornament & Architecture

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937

Accession Number: 37.45.3(49)


Until the construction of railways in Rome in the nineteenth century, visitors entered the city through the Piazza del Popolo. The area acquired its monumental profile under Pope Sixtus V, who oversaw the construction of twin churches opposite the gateway into the square and the placement of an Egyptian obelisk in the center. In Piranesi's view, the obelisk extends almost from top to bottom of the composition, dwarfing the spectators gesturing beneath it and the coaches that circulate nearby. Radiating into the distance are the three great avenues that lead - as Piranesi's caption reminds us - to three popular tourist destinations, the Piazza di Spagna, the Palazzo di Venezia, and the Porto di Ripetta.