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Across the curator's desk: Piranesi's etchings, c 1761

Detail from 'The Drawbridge', etching by Giovanni Battista Piranesi c1761

What is this item?
This is a detail from 'The Drawbridge’ (c.1761) from the series Carceri d'invenzione, or Imaginary Prisons - a collection of etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778).

Why is it important?  
Piranesi was an Italian printmaker known for his detailed technical drawings, architectural studies of Rome and imaginary buildings.
Many ancient Roman monuments (now long gone) have been preserved visually by Piranesi in his detailed and realistic engravings.
He is perhaps best known for his imaginary labyrinthine buildings and prisons that creatively experimented with perspective, distortion and ‘impossible geometries’.
Influencing Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Surrealism, his work continues to inspire art, architecture and popular culture to this day.

Why is it on your desk? 
In preparation for a group viewing with Design students from University of Technology, Sydney investigating creative drawing practices in architecture.

How did it get here?
The Opere di Giambattista Piranesi published between 1756-1792 are a collection of  individual publications by Piranesi.
The Library holds 14 volumes in its Rare Books collection, acquired by the Free Public Library in the late 19th century.

Maria Savvidis
Curator, Research and Discovery