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Piranesi’s series of prints, depicting a range of ‘imaginary prisons’, look uncannily modern from our own 21st century perspective, and are undoubtedly the most famous of the artist’s picture series. The execution of these works, for which evidently the artist experimented with the entire gamut of etching techniques, bears witness to a degree of boldness and spontaneity rarely found in other works from the period. On the title page of the sequence, the carceri are described as pure flights of fancy. Nevertheless, the practical problems and technical impossibilities inherent in the architecture of these pictures still manage to convey the horrors of prison, torture, and suffering thanks to the breathtaking virtuosity of the work’s visual play with surfaces, space, and perspective.

Details

  • Title: Carceri d´invenzione: The Big Wheel
  • Creator: Giovanni Battista Piranesi
  • Date: c. 1761 - 1762
  • Physical Dimensions: w53.6 x h69.8 cm
  • Type: Print
  • Medium: Etching
  • Inv.-No.: 13,9-59
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Volker-H. Schneider │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Dagmar Korbacher
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 14.10.1720 - 19.11.1778

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