The marble arch, at the summit of the Sacred Way at the southern end of the Roman Forum, commemorates the 71 triumph of Titus and his father Vespasian celebrating their conquest of Judaea. It was erected in 81 by Domitian (81-96) after his brother's death. The relief visible within the arch represents the procession approaching a triumphal gate bearing the spoils taken from the Temple of Jerusalem: the menorah, the golden table, the silver trumpets. (The relief opposite shows Titus driving a quadriga or four-horse chariot). In the Middle Ages the arch had been incorporated within the fortifications of the Frangipani family and remained so in Piranesi's day. It was not excavated and reconstructed until the early nineteenth century. Piranesi seems to have approached this view as an opportunity to display the virtuosity of his etching technique in depicting varieties of texture, whether gnarled trees or monuments ravaged by time, and stark contrasts of light and shade.


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