Giovanni Battista Piranesi was one of the most versatile and talented artists of the 18th century. His etchings, in particular, show him to be a highly imaginative individual whose fantastical images were grounded in a firm knowledge of ancient Roman architecture and technology. Piranesi’s etchings of imaginary prison interiors, the Carceri, remain some of his most intriguing work. Comprised of colossal interior views, this series orchestrates immense architectural elements in inventive formations to create believable but entirely fabricated constructions of ambiguous and forbidding character.

This work is on view in the exhibition Between Fact and Fantasy: The Artistic Imagination in Print, through June 22, 2014. 

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720–1778)
The Round Tower, from the series Carceri (Prisons), 1761–78
R.T. Miller Jr. Fund, AMAM 1958.156

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