Monday, May 21, 2012

SNEAK PEAK--Giovani Battista Piranesi

Last Thursday's auction was very fruitful, what I am most excited about is that I was able to acquire pieces that fit into the categories of objects that I love to sell.


I have bought and sold Giovani Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)* engravings for the past 10 years, when they appear and are at my price point. I haven't been able to acquire any for the past couple of years, but Thursday was my day. I had previewed the auction and checked out the Piranesi engravings to make sure that they were 18th century editions (and not issued after his death or in the 19th century). They appeared to be 18th c. editions and in fairly good condition--meaning that there was only minor discoloration and no obvious foxing (the brown staining/marks that appear on old paper due to moisture or exposure to chemicals). (The marks on these photos are merely the effects of photographing through the glass.) The frames were very pedestrian and I knew that I would need to have them reframed by my great custom framer who is also a print seller.

One of the engravings is of the Trevi Fountain in Rome and the other, also a water structure, is inscribed with the details of the engraving in a cartouche at the lower left. The last image is an enlargement of that cartouche. The engraving of the Trevi Fountain also carries an inscription, but it is located just below the image and is difficult to photograph.

Once these Piranesis are appropriately framed, I'll post an update.

*Giovani Battista Piranesi (not be be confused with his son, also a reknown engraver) was born in1720 in the Republic of Venice. He studied architecture under his uncle, Matteo Lucchesi which set the ground work for Piranesi's later engravings of Rome. In 1740, he moved to Rome, residing at the Palazzo Venezia and where he studied etching and engraving. He continued his education with the pupils of the French Academy in Rome where he participated in the production of several series of "vedute" or views of Rome. He frequented the studio of Tiepolo while in Venice during the years 1743 to 47. He returned to Rome in 1748 where he was to become "The Master Engraver of the 18th Century Rome."  Please Google G.B. Piranesi for a more detailed biography.


This is an adorable little painting of cows by the listed English artist John Boultbee that dates to the late 18th/early19th c. I love to place animals pieces in interior spaces as they add character and a sense of place. For the past 4 years, with economy in question, I have been selling very few pieces of signed and listed art. The very high market was still good, but that middle decorative market all but dried up--now I see a return to an interest in great little paintings which add soul to a space, but are not investment level. This painting, although not signed on the front, carried its history on the back stretcher/frame and was deaccessioned from a Los Angeles area museum/library. I love these cows--notice that there are two more cows in the background.

I was at my auction today to pick up another painting and previewed the Thursday sale---there is some interesting stuff......we'll see what evolves. But right now I have to get Jones to the Dog Park or we will have a very difficult evening.

I hope that you all have an wonderful week--filled with adventure.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)


  1. The Piranesi's are stunning Mary... How fortunate to find these and successfully buy them... They will be wonderful once framed.
    I do hope you are feeling well and recovering... xv

    1. Hi Vicki, Yes, I'm "all better"--I can't wait to get those guys to the framer to see how they turn out. Mary