In 1777 Giovanni Battista Piranesi and his son, Francesco, traveled to the coast south of Naples to draw the famous Greek temples at Paestum. These three buildings, ranked along a marshy plain facing the sea, represented an austere classical tradition that predated the richness and variety of the Roman buildings that the elder Piranesi had studied so deeply. Years earlier, he had disparaged the importance of the Greek tradition in Roman architecture, but his encounter with these “grave” and “wise” buildings transformed his opinion.
In an impressive suite of twenty-one prints completed by Francesco shortly before his father’s death, Piranesi shaped the taste of the next generation of the classical revival, which would turn with respect to the more sober grandeur of the Greeks.
Frontispiece from Different Views… of Paestum
Etching on paper
Image: 17 3/8 x 26 ¼ in. (44.1 x 66.7 cm); plate: 18 ¾ x 26 5/8 in. (18 ¾ x 67.6 cm); sheet: 22 x 31 5/8 in. (55.9 x 80.3 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.277