Veduta del Porto di Ripa Grande (View of the Harbor and Quay, Called the Ripa Grande),
Plate 27 from the Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome)
Born in the town of Mogliano Veneto, just north of Venice, Giovanni Battista Piranesi studied and became proficient in a variety of trades—engineering, architecture, stage design, and engraving—all before he reached his twentieth birthday. In 1740 he went to Rome, and, struck by its monumental splendor, soon turned to producing images of the city that could be marketed in Rome’s already well-developed tourist trade. Around 1748, Piranesi initiated the Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome), a large and long-lived series documenting the ancient and modern architecture of Rome for which he is perhaps best known today. Eventually totaling 135 prints, the Vedute were issued individually and in a variety of editions by Piranesi as he etched them over a period of thirty years.Veduta del Porto di Ripa Grande depicts the chaos of the harbor along the west bank of the Tiber River in Rome, called the Ripa Grande, or Great Bank, which was constructed to unload goods shipped upstream from the ports of Ostia and Portus, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. A unique (and apparently unrecorded) proof printed before the print was published in its first state, this sheet still retains the large barge, located in the center of the river, which was removed by Piranesi before the third and subsequent states were issued.