- Title: La Topografia di Roma
- Author: Giovanni Battista Nolli and Giovanni Battista Piranesi
- Date: 1748
- Medium: Hand-colored copperplate engraving
- Condition: Very Good – age toning, light foxing and scuffing
- Inches: 26 3/4 x 18 1/4 [Plate Mark]
- Centimeters: 67.95 x 46.36 [Plate Mark]
- Product ID: 1705
Map of Rome; includes numbered legend and decorative views of major monuments and landmarks of the city.
This plan of the city of Rome created by Giovanni Battista Nolli (1701-1756) and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) is a smaller version of Nolli’s masterwork, the Pianta Grande di Roma, which measures nearly six by seven feet. The Pianta Grande, engraved by Nolli in 1748 twelve years after he began its survey, consists of twelve separate copperplate engravings. Though Nolli drew inspiration from Leonardo Bufalini’s 1511 map of Rome, he oriented his map according to magnetic north, not eastward as was conventional at the time. Additionally, rather than follow Bufalini’s example of shading in all buildings as dark, inert blocks, Nolli depicted public enclosures such as the Pantheon as the accessible open spaces they were. The Pianta Grande proved hugely influential for future cartography of the city of Rome due to its accuracy, and remained in use by city government officials until the 1970s.
In addition to becoming one of the most prolific printmakers of the eighteenth century, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) found success as an architect, art theorist, and writer. Born in Venice as the son of a master stonemason, Piranesi demonstrated an affinity for architectural design from a young age, an interest that would persist throughout his career as an engraver. Best known for his etching series titled Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome), Piranesi spent most of his career in Rome, returning to Venice periodically. While his affinity for Roman architecture remained undiminished throughout his life, Piranesi created many designs with Greek, Egyptian, Etruscan, and even Rococo influences, encouraging architects and artists to draw their inspiration from diverse sources.
Piranesi played a major role in shaping European and even global conceptions of Rome and its ancient roots. The 2,000 plates he produced in his lifetime created a vivid architectural landscape which promoted Rome as a paragon of classical art and architecture, documenting forms and aesthetics which would prove hugely influential to both Neoclassicism and Romanticism. Additionally, new disciplines such as classical archaeology gained popularity as an increasing number of people wished to learn the history behind Piranesi’s etchings. It is said that Piranesi’s works had so captivated Goethe that upon his first visit to Rome, the German was left slightly underwhelmed, the reality of the ancient city paling in comparison to the grandeur of the images he had studied.