Piranesi, Giovanni Battista (jōvänˈnē bät-tēˈstä pēränāˈzē) [key], 1720–78, Italian etcher and architect. The greater part of his life was spent in Rome, where he made etchings of the buildings and monuments of the ancient and modern city. His architectural plates are notable for their accuracy and grandeur, although in his admiration for these monuments, he occasionally exaggerated their scale. In other etching series, he created fanciful reconstructions of Roman monuments and dark visions of imaginary prisons, as in the Carceri plates. The one existing building that he designed is the Church of Santa Maria Priorato, Rome (1764–65).
See studies by A. M. Hind (1922), A. H. Mayor (1952), H. Thomas (1954), P. Murray (1972), J. Scott (1975), and J. Wilton-Ely (1978).
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