Statue of Minerva, 1748

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Piranesi’s views of Rome seem to document the city, but they distort reality for expressive purposes. This opening image for the series makes clear that for Piranesi, Rome’s ruins were fuel for dreams and fantasies. Here Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and the arts, presides amid tumbledown splendor. At the upper left, Hercules, symbol of strength, has turned away from this place.

With Piranesi’s help, we can recreate in our minds the lost grandeur of this mighty imperial capital. Our hearts might beat faster before this imagined glory, yet we may also mourn its passing as we follow Piranesi’s ramble through the wreckage.

Statue of Minerva
Artist Life
Italian, 1720–1778
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Hind 002
Curator Approved

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