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Tuesday 10 December 2019

Giovanni Battista Piranesi's etching, “Two Marble Tripods in the Villa Albani”, 1778

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778)
“Two Marble Tripods in the Villa Albani” (aka “Tripodi antichi di marmo che si vedono nella Villa dell'Emo Cardinal Albani fuori di Porta Salara” [Ancient marble tripods that can be seen in the Villa dell'Emo Cardinal Albani outside Porta Salara]), 1778, from the series of 110 plates (see Wilton-Ely [1994] vol. 2, pp. 961–62), “Vasi, candelabri, cippi, sarcofagi, tripodi, lucerne, ed ornamenti antichi disegnati ed incisi dal Cav. Gio. Batt. Piranesi (Vases, candelabra, grave stones, sarcophagi”, tripods, lamps and ornaments designed and etched by Cavaliere Giovanni Battista Piranesi). This impression is from the first edition as indicated by the pair of watermarks of that time (Wilton-Ely 1994, cat. nos. 59 & 64 of the “mid 1770s–1790s”) published in Rome in the second volume (of two).
Etching (with engraving) on heavy laid paper with the “Opere Varie” (cat. no. 64) and “Bracciano” (cat. no. 59) watermarks of the mid 1770s–1790s at opposite end of the double-page sheet (see Wilton-Ely 1994, vol. 2, pp. 1169. 1171), full margins and centre-fold as published.
Size: (sheet) 76.5 x 54.5 cm; (plate) 52.8 x 38.8 cm.
Lettered on plate in Italian: (centre of upper edge) “Tripodi antichi di marmo che si vedono nella Villa dell'Emo Cardinal Albani/ fuori di Porta Salara”; (centre of lower edge) “A Sua Eccellenza il Signor Betsky Consigliere privato attuale, Ciamberlano attuale di/ S.M.I., Presidente dell'Accademia delle Arti, Capo del nobil Corpo dei Cadetti, Direttore/ Generale delle Fabtiche, Cavaliere degli Ordini di S. Andrea, di S. Alessandro, e di S. Anna./ In segno d'Ossequio Il Cavaliere Gio. Batta Piranesi”; (lower left corner) “Cavalier Piranes del. e inc.”.
Inscribed by an old hand in ink at upper right corner: “33”.
Wilton-Ely 1994 918 (John Wilton-Ely 1994, “Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Complete Etchings”, vol. 2, San Francisco, AlanWofsy, p. 996, cat. no. 918); Focillon 1918 631 (Henri Focillon 1918, “Giovanni Battista Piranesi: Essai de catalogue raisonné de son Ouvre”, Bologna, p. 327, cat. no. 631); Ficacci 2000 763 (Luigi Ficacci 2000, “Giovanni Battista Piranesi: The Complete Etchings”, Cologne, Taschen, vol. 2, p. 598, cat. no. 763).
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Two antique marble tripods from the Collection of Cardinal Albani at his villa outside the Porta Salara, Rome”
The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
(transl.) “Two antique tripods. Above: a tripod with winged and horned lions as legs. Below: a tripod with frieze with sea nymphs and satyrs.”
See also a fine discussion about this print and a biography of Piranesi at Alexandre Antique Prints, Maps & Books (Abebooks):
Condition: strong impression from the first edition (based on the dual watermarks of the late 1700s) with full margins and centre-fold (as published). The sheet has minor chips, small tears along the centre-fold and age-toning, otherwise the sheet is in very good condition for its considerable age.
I am selling this huge, first edition, magnificent Piranesi’s etching for a total cost of AU$720 (currently US$490.66/EUR442.68/GBP372.10 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this stunning impression exemplifying Piranesi’s wish to entice potential collectors—“aristocrats and gentlemen on the Grand Tour” (Wilton-Ely 1994, p. 961) including the cardinal to whom this plate is dedicated (Cardinal Alessandro Albani (1692–1779)—with his “ingenious confections” based on classical antiquities which he was creatively restoring and selling, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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