The Art of Illustration 1750—1900

IMG_1242Giambattista Piranesi was an Italian artist who lived during the 18th century. He was known for his etchings of Rome and of imaginary prisons. His work influenced Romanticism and Surrealism.

Piranesi mostly worked with etching, a printmaking technique that uses chemical action to produce incised lines in a metal printing plate which then hold the applied ink and form the image. At the time, his pieces were considered very unique as his style had elements that weren’t found in other artists’ work. He created a series of prints called, “Carceri” that featured his most prominent work. These include prison etchings that showed remarkable scenes of labyrinth-like prisons.

He played around with how light is displayed in his work. Light from outside showed how life still went on even as the prison was still functioning. The details in the shadows inside the prison encapsulate the indefinite feelings of despair. The perspective of the prison feels grandiose because he used long lines to capture that feeling of grandeur.

He went on to continue to work in Rome where his etchings were popular as they showed the architectural prowess of the city. His legacy lives on with his etchings still playing a vital role in some artists.

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