Forms & Formats

The Fasti Capitolini, in Lapides Capitolini sive Fasti Consulares Triumphalesque Romanorum. Rome, 1762

Piranesi studied printing matrices, and his prints depict objects used to impress words and images onto surfaces.

Piranesi loved letterforms, and he made images of words that emphasized their design and physical manufacture. Inscriptions cut into stone, markings on papyrus, handwritten letters, metal typefaces, hieroglyphics on obelisks: these are just some of the forms of incised, written, printed, cast, carved, and sculpted words that Piranesi incorporated into his prints. Exploring how letters are crafted made him think closely about historical sources as material sources. In turn, he considered how books conjoin text and image.

Exploring how letters are crafted made Piranesi think closely about historical sources as material sources.