Friedman Art Gallery presenting 'Classical Masters: The Grandeur of Rome' beginning Jan. 25|
The Pauly Friedman Art Gallery at Misericordia University is hosting the exhibit, “Classical Masters: The Grandeur of Rome,’’ featuring more than 100 etchings, prints and engravingsof Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) and Luigi Rossini (1790-1857) that capture the elegance, architecture and antiquities of ancient Rome. The exhibition will be accompanied with informative narratives for a complete experience.
The “Classical Masters’’ prints are on loan to the Friedman Art Gallery from a private collector. The show begins Jan. 25, 2014 and runs through March, 2, 2014. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, Jan. 30 in the art gallery immediatley following the special classical architectural lecture, “Drawing on the Ruins of Rome: Roman Architecture and the Etchings of Piranesi and Rossini,’’ by architect Russell B. Roberts, AIA, at 6:30 p.m.. Mr. Roberts will also offer the lecture at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2014 in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall. The events are free and open to the public.
Piranesi was born in Venice. Along with Canaletto and Tiepolo, he is one of three great 18th century Italian artists known for their etchings of Roman antiquities. After studying to be an architect, he became a draftsman at the age of 20 on the staff of a Venetian ambassador to the Vatican. It’s there that he learned the art of etching. He spent most of his life in Rome, pursuing his archeological research and completing more than 1,300 large etchings – or about one plate every two weeks for 39 years.
“Piranesi was a superb technician who could magically reconstruct the mood of antiquity,’’ said Brian Benedetti, director of the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery and curator of the ‘Classical Masters’ exhibition. “His master of draftsmanship and perspective, his knowledge of Roman antiquities, the sense of drama suggested by the picturesque figures which peopled his romantic ruins, and above all, his epic creative imagination, all combine to make his etchings a most effective dramatization of Rome’s past grandeur.’’
Until Piranesi, view makers had drawn buildings straight on. Piranesi used geometric perspective. His brilliant artistic use of light and shadow was painstakingly achieved by sketching a building several times each day over several days to get as many varied impressions of light as he could.
During his career, he quickly became an authority on Roman archaeology throughout Europe and exercised considerable influence on the development of this classic style in France and in England. Piranesi was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries in 1757, four years before being admitted to the Accademia di San Luca of Rome. In 1758, he was finally asked to put his study of architecture to use by remodeling some buildings. The Church of Knights in Sta. Maria Aventina, where Piranesi is buried, is his only building still standing.
Overall, Piranesi lived much of his adult life creating artistic views of Rome’s architectural marvels. His series, “Vedute di Roma’’ or “Views of Rome’’ (137 etchings) have been popular throughout Europe and America since their creation. “The Vedute are his most prominent artistic legacy,’’ said Benedetti. “They effectively portray Rome as the source of western culture and civilization, and enhance the appeal of the Eternal City. In turn, they brought him fame and fortune.’’
He is also known for his series of works “Antichita Romane de Tempi della Republica (1748), “Carceri d’Invenzione” (1745), “Antichita romane” (1756), “Diverse maniere di adornare I cammini” (1769) and “Vasi, candelabra” (1768-78).
“Piranesi is one of the few major printmakers of the period for whom we have such reliable and complete information because he sold his etchings,’’ Benedetti added. “In 1761, he began issuing a special catalogue to inform his large European clientele about the individual prints he published. This made it possible to follow the growth of Piranesi’s production and the prices paid for his etchings.’’
Rossini was born in Ravenna in 1790 and traveled at age 16 to Bologna to study at the art academy. It was there he became apprenticed to Antonio Basoli, an early 19th century Bolognese artist. He learned to do different kinds of decorative borders in chiaroscuro from Basoli and also attended evening sessions at the art academy where his teachers included Leandro Marconi and Gianantonio Antolini. Bolognese painter, Luigi Cini, one of the most important decorative artists of this period, then trained Rossini in his school. Rossini later earned an apprenticeship and scholarship in Rome at the Accademia Italiana at the Palazzo di Venezi.
“He soon realized that it was almost impossible to find work as an architect,’’ Benedetti said. “He also understood that to be successful in the field, an architect had to be, as he reflected in his autobiography, ‘obsequious, to have strong connections and considerable obligations.’ He therefore decided to follow in the tradition of Piranesi and execute drawings and engravings of buildings and archaeological remains of ancient Rome.
“He also called Piranesi ‘one of the glories of Italy,’ and he greatly admired and respected his work,’’ Benedetti concluded.
During his career, Rossini continued Piranesi’s tradition and was one of the most important practitioners of neo-classical etching. He had an extraordinary ability to capture the detail that made Roman architecture inspiring and enduring. His works demonstrate his ability to recreate the triumphal arches, bridges and temples with conviction and vigor.
Overall, Rossini produced about 1,000 engravings during his lifetime, of which, 600 plates are preserved in R. Calcografia in Rome. He is also known for “Raccolta di 50 principali vedute di antichita tratte da scavi fatti in Roma” (1817), and “Antichita romane ossia raccolta delle piuinteressanti vedute di Roma” (1819-1823). He completed numerous other engraving series depicting interesting antiquities and monuments surrounding Rome, as well as triumphal and votive arches of Rome and picturesque journeys from Rome to Naples.
The “Classical Masters: The Grandeur of Rome’’ exhibit is open free to the public. The Pauly Friedman Art Gallery and MacDonald Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. The galleries will be closed on July 4 and 5. For more information about the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery and upcoming exhibits, please log on to www.misericordia.edu/art or call (570) 674-6250.