Piranesi celebrations at the BSR: Digital Highlights, Lectures and Mostra

During Spring and Summer 2021, the BSR took part in commemorations of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

The outcomes of recent research projects were presented via a new Highlight on the BSR Digital Collections website, featuring a complete digital version of the BSR Library’s copy of Piranesi’s Il Campo Marzio dell’Antica Roma, a conservation report and a research essay by BSR Research Fellow Clare Hornsby.

A lecture by Clare Hornsby on the Campo Marzio was broadcast in the BSR Online Lectures series and the BSR co-hosted the Piranesi@300 international conference in partnership with the Centro di Studi sulla Cultura e l’Immagine di Roma, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma and the Académie de France Villa Médicis.

Clare Hornsby and Caroline Barron, ancient historian and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London, also curated a selection of works based around the Campo Marzio, which was displayed at the BSR in July.

The selection showed some etchings from the main Piranesian print series — the Vedute and the Antichità Romane — especially focussing in the latter case on images with interesting epigraphic content, considering issues such as the invasion of Piranesi’s visual field with text, both ancient inscriptions and his own descriptive captions and interventions. Apart from the Campo Marzio volume, two others in the BSR rare books collection were featured — Antichità di Cora (yet to be restored) and the Magnificenza.

The display marked the launch of a long-term collaborative project between Clare Hornsby and Caroline Barron, through which an online catalogue entry will be created for each of the 139 loose prints from the BSR collection. The prints, which were initially restored and mounted 20 years ago, will be scanned to a very high quality and given a full bibliographic record. The catalogue entries, which will eventually include the other books, will form part of the BSR Digital Collections website. The project will be disseminated via a programme of small exhibitions at the BSR annually over the next 4-5 years.

The project would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and support of Valerie Scott, Librarian of the BSR, who will retire this summer, and with the kind permission of the BSR Director, Chris Wickham.

Clare Hornsby’s lecture on ‘Piranesi at the BSR: Thomas Ashby’s curious Campo Marzio‘ can be viewed on the BSR YouTube channel as well as Day 2 of the Piranesi@300 Conference, hosted by the BSR.

Explore the new Piranesi Highlight on the BSR Digital Collections website.