A View of the Vestibule of Santa Maria Maggiore at Rome

Artist and publisher: Georges François Blondel (French, 1730–after 1792)

Published in: London

Date: 1765–67

Medium: Mezzotint; published state

Dimensions: Sheet: 22 1/4 x 16 in. (56.5 x 40.6 cm)

Classifications: Prints, Ornament & Architecture

Credit Line: The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1967

Accession Number: 67.797.6


Georges-François Blondel was the son of a leading French architectural theorist Jacques-François Blondel. After training in Paris, he worked first in Rome and then in London, where he learned the technique of mezzotint engraving. This print depicts a celebrated structure of eighteenth-century Rome, Ferdinando Fuga's dramatic facade of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, completed in 1743. It is one of nine architectural views the artist published between 1765 and 1767. His taste for monumental classical structures and his tendency to make even modern subjects resemble ancient ruins suggest his admiration for Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1788). The fragmented view, small figures, and classical architectural forms which Blondel created similarly give the late Baroque structure the appearance of an ancient ruin. Unusually, Blondel rocked the mezzotint plate twice: first when preparing the ground for the design, and again when scraping the composition, creating haphazard, expressive strokes that animate the sky.