Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 17201778)
Rogers Fund, transferred from the Library, 1941 (188.8.131.52.14)
This elaborate candelabrum, now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, represents one of Piranesi's more creative "restorations." Produced during a period when Piranesi was collaborating with the Scottish painter Gavin Hamilton in the restoration and sale of antiquitiesmany uncovered in the excavations at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoliit combines a number of diverse ancient fragments to create a new work. More Piranesian than ancient in its effect, this assemblage exemplifies Piranesi's belief in the freedom of designers to draw from a variety of sources to enrich their invention. A similarly fantastic candelabrum, now in the Louvre, formerly served as an ornament to Piranesi's own tomb. The handsome series of etchings after ancient vases, candelabra, funerary urns, and other recently excavated decorative objectssome less extensively restoredserved to advertise wares available in Piranesi's workshop as well as to document rare pieces that were leaving the country, such as the Warwick Vase.