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View of the Temple of Neptune

Neptune, known as Poseidon to the Greeks, was the titulary deity of the seaside town of Poseidonia, called Paestum or Paistos by later inhabitants. The central temple in the city’s public plaza, probably built around 460 BC, has been traditionally linked to Poseidon. The best preserved of the three temples on the site, the temple of Neptune invited a rich sequence of views for artists. Piranesi stood back to encompass the entire façade in this image, which includes a glimpse for the older “basilica” nearby.

Piranesi’s text draws attention to the “perfection” of both overall design and execution of this monument, and it notes that “the man of taste contemplates with pleasure the ensemble of this edifice.”

Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Italian, 1720-1778
View of the Temple of Neptune, Plate 10 from Different Views…of Paestum
1778
Etching on paper
Image: 20 7/16 x 27 ¾ in. (51.9 x 70.5 cm); plate: 20 5/8 x 28 1/8 in. (52.4 x 71.4 cm); sheet: 22 1/16 x 31 ¾ in. (56.0 x 80.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection Diether Thimme, 98.278.8