Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 - 1788) - Carceri d'Invenzione (Pilier aux chaînes)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 - 1788) - Carceri d'Invenzione (Pilier aux chaînes)
Engraving - Plate signed - 1760 - Probably a 19th century impression or later

Please note, info is added:
Printed on heavy and very thick wove paper (19th century).
A picture through the light is impossible because the paper is too thick, which shows this is a 19th century paper. Dimensions: Plate: 40.5 x 55 cm, sheet: 56 x 74 cm
- Plate XVI of The Imaginary Prisons (Carceri d'Invenzione) by Piranese: "Le pilier aux chaînes" ca. 1760
- Media: etching
- Signed in the plate
- Origin: Roman private collection
- Catalogues raisonnés: Hind 16 III (III); Robinson 42
- Literature: Marguerite Yourcenar, “Le cerveau noir” of Piranesi

In a very good condition despite some creases and tears in the margins, which do not affect the subject.

Carefully inked, very deep print, of the 16th plate of the "Prisons imaginaires", a mythical work, rare and highly sought after by the greatest Italian engraver of the 18th century.


The imaginary prisons feature architectural views of imaginary underground prisons. They derive more from theatre jails than from real jails: at that time, Italian jails took the shape of small dungeons. The architecture is ambiguous: these are not real or possible buildings, the plates have some spatial flaws.

Analysing the second edition, darker than the first, Marguerite Yourcenar writes: "The real horror of the Carceri is less in a few mysterious scenes of torment than in the indifference of these human ants wandering in immense spaces, and whose various groups almost never seem to communicate with each other, or even to notice their respective presence, much less notice that in an obscure corner a condemned man is being tortured ”.

Source: Wikipedia

Lot details
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 - 1788)
Title of artwork
Carceri d'Invenzione (Pilier aux chaînes)
1760 - Probably a 19th century impression or later
Plate signed
Overall in good condition with traces of ageing
Sold with frame
Image size
40.5×55 cm
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