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Piranesi vase
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THIS VASE WAS restored by the celebrated Italian architect and engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78). Piranesi, better known for his architectural views of ancient and modern Rome aimed at the Grand Tour market, later took up the lucrative business of the restoration and sale of antiquities. In 1769 he acquired a number of ancient fragments found at a site on the grounds of the villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian at Tivoli near Rome. He restored these fragments and incorporated them into highly decorative classical pastiches.

Although Piranesi described this vase as a fine work of the time of Hadrian (reigned AD 117-138), only small sections of it are ancient. These are: two of the bull’s heads on the base, sections of the lion’s legs and parts of the relief depicting satyrs picking grapes. The rest of the vase is entirely of Piranesi’s own making.

Piranesi vase

From Tivoli, Italy, 18th century, incorporating Roman fragments (2nd century ad)
Ht 272 cm

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