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ID number:  BIRBI-2007.3
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Piranesi, Giovanni Battista
Title / Object name:  The Grand Piazza, Plate IV from 'The Prisons (Carceri)'
Object type:  Print
Place made:  Rome
Culture:  Italian
Date made:  1773
Materials:  Etching with engraving, second state, third edition
Measurements:  Plate: 545 x 416 mm; mount: 830 x 690 mm

Piranesi’s set of architectural fantasies, The Prisons, were first published in 1745, but he extensively reworked the plates before reissuing them in the 1760s. This transformed the architectural, stage-like designs into a dramatic world of gloom and horror. Some of the plates feature instruments of torture, but here elements such as the spikes, the wheel and the chains create a more subtle image of terror, enhanced by the dramatic tonal contrasts employed by the great printmaker. The set of Prisons eventually comprised sixteen prints.

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