The Death of Piranesi
On November 9th 1778, the Venetian print-maker Giovanni Battista Piranesi (b.1720) died in Rome. He is buried in the church of Santa Maria del Priorato, which he designed and built for the Knights of Malta.
Piranesi is honoured in the church with a statue (1780), the work of Giuseppe Angelini (1735-1811). Dressed in a toga and wearing a pair of sandals, he rests his right arm on a herm, which has carvings of a pen, compass and set square, the tools of his trade. The sheet of paper he holds in his left hand has the ground-plan of a temple.
The curious shield in the background sports several symbols of death, a pair of upturned torches and two skulls. The intertwined snakes, crown and palm fronds are symbols of rebirth and resurrection.
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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