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Interior View of the Temple of Neptune

Famed for his views of Rome and its classical ruins, Piranesi turned to the Greek temples at Paestum for his final series of views. Founded on the coast south of Naples around 600 BC by Greek colonists, the town of Paestum was largely abandoned by the third century AD. The site, with its three well-preserved temples, was rediscovered in 1746. By the 1760s, more adventurous travelers included the remote archaeological site on their itineraries. The production of souvenirs such as printed views and cork models of the temples attest to Paestum’s popularity with Grand Tourists.

This print depicts the interior of the temple thought to be dedicated to Neptune, although more recent scholarship has suggested that this temple was actually dedicated to Hera. The best preserved temple at Paestum, its unfamiliar, austere Doric style fired the imaginations of eighteenth-century artists and scholars used to more elaborated modes of ancient architecture.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Italian, 1720–1778
Interior View of the Temple of Neptune, Plate 12 from Different Views...of Paestum
1778
Etching on paper
Image: 18 ¾ x 26 9/16 in. (47.6 x 67.4 cm); plate: 19 x 26 ¾” in. (48.2 x 67.9 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.278.10