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Trofeo O Sia Magnifica Colonna Coclide Di Marmo Composta Di Grossi Macigni Ove Si Veggono Scolpite Le Due Guerre Daciche Fatte Da Traiano, Inalzata Nel Mezzo Del Gran Foro Eretto Al Medesimo Imperadore Per Ordine Del Senato E Popolo Romano Doppo I Suoi Trionfi · Il Tutto Architettato Da Apollodoro · L'Iscrizione Che Nel Piedestallo Di Essa Colonna Leggesi Addita Il Taglio Dei Monti Quirinale E Capitolino Fatto Per Introdurui Molte Fabbriche Che Circondavano Ed Ornavano Quel Gran Foro

RA Collection: Book

Record number



[Rome:: s.n.],, [ca. 1775]

Physical Description

Pl. [1,2,] 3-8, [9-19]; 760 mm. (Broadsheet).

General Note

The 13 unnumbered pl. are printed from one copper each; six of them are dble. Of the six numbered plates (3-8), pl. 3 is a folding plate printed from six coppers, pl. 4 is a folding plate printed from three coppers, and pl. 5-8 are each printed from two coppers. Thus the total of [19] plates is printed from 30 coppers. The unnumbered plates [1] (t.-pl.) and [2] (dedic. pl.) are bound in in reverse order in some copies. The unnumbered pl. [9-19] are also bound in different order in different copies. In a later state plates 3-19 are all numbered.


[T.pl., dedic.pl.] - [Plates].

Responsibility Note

Eight plates are signed as made by Piranesi ([1], 4, [11, 14-18]), and one as drawn and engraved by him ([9]); the rest are unsigned.

The work is dedicated by Piranesi to Pope Clement XIV.


National Gallery (Washington), Mark J. Millard, 4 (2000), 96; RIBA, Early printed books, 3 (1999), no. 2567; La Colonna traiana nelle incisioni di Giovan Battista Piranesi, ed. A. Ruggiero, G. Blasiotti [exhibition catalogue] (1999); Giovanni Battista Piranesi: the complete etchings, ed. J. Wilton-Ely (1994), 685-707; J. Wilton-Ely, Piranesi [exhibition catalogue] (1978), 317; A.M. Hind, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1922 repr. 1978), 86-87; H. Focillon, Giovanni-Battista Piranesi (1918 repr. 1964), 551-582.

La Colonna Traiana e gli artisti francesi da Luigi XIV a Napoleone I [exhibition catalogue] (1988).

Summary Note

These plates may have been completed by 1774 (the year in which Pope Clement XIV, to whom the work is dedicated, died); but the publication-date of May 1775 is given by Piranesi's son Francesco in his catalogue (1792).

The work describes the commemorative column in Rome which is the sole intact monument of the great Forum commissioned by the emperor Trajan from the architect Apollodorus of Damascus. The structures of the Forum were ruined by earthquake in the ninth century and largely re-used in the 16th century in the rebuilding of St. Peter's.

The pedestal of the column is formed of eight blocks of marble; the column itself, of twenty-one (the top two are post-antique). The pedestal carries friezes showing Dacian weaponry and a dedicatory inscription to Trajan from the Senate and People of Rome - which declares that the column indicates 'how deep were the rock and earth excavated for these great works' (a reference to the cutting away of the Quirinal hill for the Forum and markets). One room inside the pedestal may have received Trajan's ashes. The Tuscan column is adorned with a scrolling frieze (originally perhaps coloured) of 155 scenes showing Trajan's campaigns in Dacia (Romania) in 101-102 and 105 A.D. The column contains a spiral staircase, lit by four vertical rows of ten windows. Only fragments remain of the statue of Trajan which crowned the column; in 1588 Domenico Fontana was commissioned to set up the existing statue of an Apostle.

The commemorative column proved to be an enduring form of monument. In Rome Trajan's column was soon joined by those of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius; the emperors Theodosius and Arcadius erected columns at Constantinople; and in modern times the Napoleonic Wars led to the erection of the column of the Grande Armée in Paris (crowned by a figure of Napoleon), Nelson's column in London (crowned by a figure of Nelson), and the Alexander column in St Petersburg (crowned by the figure of an angel carrying a cross).


Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Binding Note

19th-century half morocco, green cloth-covered boards, spine lettered 'Trajan Column Piranesi R.A.'. Bound (as often) with Colonna eretta in memoria dell'Apoteosi di Antonino Pio (1779) and Colonna Antonina (1776).

Name as Subject


Trajan's Column (Rome) - Columns - Architecture, Roman - Sculpture, Roman - Bas-reliefs, Roman - Public sculpture, Roman - Outdoor sculpture, Roman - Monuments, Roman - National monuments - Narrative art - Italy - Rome - History - 2nd century
Rulers - Monarchs - Publicizing - Public relations - Italy - Rome - 2nd century
Romans - Romanians - Dacians - Romania - Campaigns - Military history - 2nd century
Art history - Archaeology - Italy - 18th century
Pictorial works - Italy - 18th century


Giovanni Battista Piranesi, draughtsman, engraver
Clement XIV Pope, dedicatee

Images from this book

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