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Osservazioni Di Gio Battista Piranesi sopra la Lettre de M. Mariette aux auteurs de la Gazette Littèraire de l'Europe, Inserita nel Supplemento dell'istessa Gazetta stampata Dimanche 4 Novembre MDCCLIV. E Parere su l'Architettura, con una Prefazione ad un nuovo Trattato della introduzione e del progresso delle belle arti in Europa ne' tempi antichi.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Parere Su L'Architettura
Trattato della Introduzione E Del Progresso Delle Belle Arti In Europa Ne' Tempi Antichi
Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe


In Roma: M.DCC.LXV. Con licenza de' Superiori.

Physical Description

23, [1] p., t.-pl., 3, [6] pl. (the unnumbered pl. are dble.): [6] illus.; 538 mm. (Broadsheet, but signed as folio).

General Note

The order of the plates varies from copy to copy.


[T.pl.] - [Text, 'Osservazioni ...'] - [Text, 'Parere ...'] - [Text, 'Della Introduzione E Del Progresso Delle Belle Arti ...']; [imprimatur]; [colophon] - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

The title plate, three numbered plates, four unnumbered plates and six unnumbered in-text illustrations are all signed as made, designed and engraved or drawn and engraved by Piranesi.

The publisher's name is given in the colophon: 'In Roma MDCCLXV. Per Generoso Salomoni. Con licenza de' Superiori.'


National Gallery (Washington), Mark J. Millard, 4 (2000), 99; RIBA, Early printed books, 3 (1999), 2563. G. B. Piranesi, Piranesi: scritti di storia e teoria dell'arte, ed. P. Panza (1993); G.B. Piranesi, Giovanni Battista Piranesi: the polemical works, ed. J. Wilton-Ely (1972); S. Mazzarino, 'Il mutamento delle idee sull'antichità classica nell'ottocento', in Helikon, 9/10 (1969/1970); R. Wittkower, 'Piranesi's "Parere su l'architettura"', in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 2 (1938-9), 147-158.

Summary Note

The publication-date of 1765 is given on the title-plate; but the issue of the work with all its plates (t.-pl., 3 numbered, six unnumbered, pl.) is thought not to have appeared before about 1772.

The Italian text of the Osservazioni is printed in parallel with the French text of Mariette's original letter.

The work, acknowledging the achievements of ancient Roman architects and suggesting their dependence on Etruscan rather than ancient Greek models, supplements Piranesi's 'Della Magnificenza'; with which it is often bound.

The title-plate incorporates a figure contrasting the left hand as one means of working (as by Mariette, a writer) and architect's tools as another (as might be used by Piranesi, an architect). The three numbered plates are captioned in French, and show friezes and paintings found in subterranean Etruscan remains. The unnumbered plates show elaborate porticos or other structures, employing Etruscan, Tuscan, Ionic and Composite elements. One of these quotes from Sallust, 'Novitatem meam contemnunt, ego illorum ignaviam' ('They condemn my novelty; I, their feebleness'). In-text illustrations show architectural fragments (one of them captioned as in the possession of 'Matteo Nulty pittore Inglese in Roma') and imaginary structures (one a Doric portico inscribed 'Rei Antiquariae Londinensi Sac.' ['Dedicated to the antiquarian institution of London']).


Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Copy Note

With two of the unnumbered plates housed separately.

Binding Note

Bound, as usual, with Piranesi's 'Della Magnificenza'. 18th-century mottled calf, upper cover gilt-stamped with arms of Britain and 'R.A.'; rebacked in 20th century, red and green morocco spine-labels lettered 'Magnificenza Di Roma' and 'Piranesi', spine lettered 'R.A.'

Name as Subject


Architecture, Roman - History
Art criticism - Art history - Italy - 18th century
Pictorial works - Italy - 18th century
Armorial bindings - Great Britain - 18th century