The Tomb, called La Conocchia, 1776

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This distinctive tomb is nicknamed La Conocchia, or spindle, whose shape it recalls. A spindle is a simple tool used to spin raw fiber into yarn (see below). It sits along the Appian Way, well south of Rome, almost to Naples. It is believed to have been built in the 100s CE, possibly for the only daughter of Emperor Vespasian. Here, as elsewhere, Piranesi populates his images with picturesque figures whose interest in antiquity seems limited to its ability to provide a place to lean or a spot of shade amid the intense Italian daylight. The artist uses the figures to give a sense of the monument’s scale and a sense of the enormity of ancient ambition compared to that of his own time.

The Tomb, called La Conocchia
Artist Life
Italian, 1720–1778
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Hind 130 i/iii
Curator Approved

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