View of the Temple of Hercules at Cori
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720 – 1778)
Date1769, published 1800–1807
DimensionsApproximate : 16 1/2 x 24 in. (41.91 x 60.96 cm)
Mat : 30 x 36 in. (76.2 x 91.44 cm)
Credit LineGift of Orville C. Beattie
LabelGiovanni Battista Piranesi was a leading figure in the Neo-Classical revival of the 18th century. Starting in the 1740s, Piranesi created images of famous Roman ruins to sell to wealthy British and European travelers who visited Italy as part of the so-called Grand Tour. The prints were sold both as single sheets and in bound sets. They proved to be extremely popular and were re-printed many times, even after Piranesi’s death. This etching comes from Piranesi’s most celebrated print series, Views of Rome (Vedute di Roma). It depicts a 1st-century BCE Roman ruin in Cori, Italy that was thought at the time to be a temple dedicated to Hercules. Modern scholars have since decided that the temple was probably dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Piranesi has dramatically juxtaposed the ancient temple with more contemporary buildings, so that the entire scene becomes a meditation on the passage of time and the rise and fall of civilizations.