Jean Barbault (ca. 1718-1762), and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)

[Antique print, etching, Piranesi] Ornamenti di Stucco, esistenti nella Volta della Stanza Sepolcrale di L. Arrunzio (stucco decoration on the tomb of L. Arruntius), published 1756-1784, 1 p.

Plate XII from the II out of four volumes collection Le Antichità Romane collecting plates by Giovanni Battist Piranesi, firstly published by Angelo Rotili in Rome between 1756 and 1757. The second edition appeared in 1784. Original wide margins, no traces of binding or folding. Two plates on one leaf, one with the illustration, the second below with the description.

Titled below: ‘Ornamenti di Stucco, esistenti nella Volta della Stanza Sepolcrale di L. Arrunzio’

Signed on the bottom left and right: ‘Piranesi Archit. dis. ed inc.‘ and ‘Barbault scolpì le Figure‘.

“The vault of the sepulchral chamber of Lucio Arrunzio and his family, the largest of the complex discovered in 1736, was decorated with elegant stucco ornaments […]. The main elements of this decoration are shown in detail in the following plates XIII, XIV and XV, while in this one, signed by Piranesi and Barbault, they are displayed in the whole of their elegant and calibrated syntactic system composed of squares divided by frames, the molding of which is shown in section, containing figurative elements in half-relief and grotesque camps, partly on a white background, partly on porphyry, antique yellow and serpentine panels in trompe-l’œil distinguished by the lowercase letters a, b and c of the caption. This same iconographic solution was used in the reliefs of the same subject conducted by Pier Leone Ghezzi, who anticipates Piranesi’s scientific request with an effectively “precise and rarefied, didactic and abstract” description (Fusconi 1994). In addition to the harmony of the decorative system, defined by Piranesi as a “perfect model of its kind” (even in the qualitative judgment he therefore adheres to Ghezzi, who expresses himself on the “hand much more and more excellent than the one who designed the tomb”), we note the solidity and technical mastery poured into these stuccos, which have survived through the centuries in a humid underground environment and which visitors could still admire in a good state of conservation, The decoration of the vault, appreciable in its real size and location in the view of the sepulchral chamber is shown here as detached from the wall with the entire thickness of the plaster and arranged on a darker surface conducted in horizontal lines, on to which the shadow of the large fragment is projected by means of interposed lines in the layout; the variety of juxtaposed signs imitates the different levels of abrasion of the surfaces, up to the upper one, intact, which is filled with regular horizontal and vertical parallel tracing, whose chromatic subdivision is represented by the etching depth gradually dosed through the use of varnish backup. Brushstrokes of reserve paint are distributed with particular emphasis around the human figures in the median rectangular panels, giving them relief on the fake porphyry; it should be noted, again, that the thin members of the frames, indicated in the text of the caption, do not fail to cast their shadow: here the brushstrokes of reserve paint are slightly different from the strips, letting the matrix area bite more deeply, while the shadow of the stucco figures is obtained with a linear interlayer. The half-relief figures declare the style of Jean Barbault, recognizable in the mobility and softness of the hatching that swells into soft volumes obtained with a more or less rarefied dotted minute, delicately delimited by the sometimes barely perceptible contour lines. […]” (Mariasole Garacci, ICG, Rome).

Translated title: Stucco decoration on the vault of the tomb chamber of L. Arruntius / Stucdecoratie op het gewelf van de grafkamer van Lucius Arruntius.

Lucius Arruntius (27 BC – 37 AD) was a Roman senator praised by the ancient Roman historian Tacitus.

Etching with some interventions in burin on hand laid paper, with broad margins; plate with illustration: 394 x 594; text plate: 47 x 598 mm; total 557 x 793 mm; a damp stain on the right margin, some tiny holes within plate, somewhat frayed end margins, otherwise in great condition.

Incl. BTW  254,10

Excl. BTW  210,00

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