Ancient Circus of Mars with Neighboring Monuments Viewed at the Via Appia

11008099-2005_002_002_Apa_ARC.tif

Artist

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Italian, 1720 - 1778

Title

Ancient Circus of Mars with Neighboring Monuments Viewed at the Via Appia

Keywords

Intaglio

Date

1756

Medium/Dimensions

Etching
15 5/8 x 23 1/2 in. (39.7 x 59.7 cm)

Object Number

2005.002.002

Description

Piranesi here has let his imagination run wild to create a capriccio, or fantasy, of ancient Rome, but it is a fantasy with a basis in archaeological fact. Although he has labeled the subject as the "ancient Circus of Mars," it is clear from the reference to the Via Appia and the general topography that he has the Circus Maximus in mind. The Circus Maximus, one of the most ancient sites in Rome, lay in a low valley between the Palatine and the Aventine Hills. It had been used for chariot races since at least the fourth century BC. Other activities like gladiatorial games and beast hunts also took place there before the construction of the Colosseum. In imperial times the circus could seat at least 150,000 people (and could have comfortably contained twelve Colosseums).

At the top of the image imperial residences are piled up on the Palatine overlooking the racetrack. The central barrier of the racetrack is depicted in detail with two obelisks amid elaborate statuary and other architectural elements. While the obelisks, one now at the Lateran and the other in the Piazza del Popolo, are the only two objects that have been recovered from the Circus, it is known from ancient historians and the imagery on artifacts that the barrier the chariots raced around was decorated with a rich array of monuments, including the three conical metae, or turning posts, at the end. The objects in the foreground (sarcophagi, altars, funerary urns, statues, etc.) are the types of things that would have been seen along the Via Appia in ancient times, but perhaps not in such tumbled profusion.
From "Le Antichita Romane", Volume III, Frontispiece

Credit Line

Museum purchase

Exhibits/Publications

Discovering Rome: Maps and Monuments of the Eternal City, Michael C. Carlos Museum, September 16, 2006 - January 14, 2007|
Old Masters: Highlights of the Works on Paper Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum, August 15 - December 6, 2009|
Antichità, Teatro, Magnificenza: Renaissance and Baroque Images of Rome, Michael C. Carlos Museum, August 24 - November 17, 2013
MCCM Newsletter, September - November, 2009.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 140.|
Antichita, Teatro, Magnificenza (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2013), 61 (checklist only).

Rights

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View

No

Citation

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Italian, 1720 - 1778, “Ancient Circus of Mars with Neighboring Monuments Viewed at the Via Appia,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed February 20, 2019, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/8865.

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