“Veduta della vasta Fontana di Trevi anticamente della l’Acqua Vergine” [View of the great Trevi fountain, in ancient times place of the Acqua Vergine aqueduct]. Etching from the Vedute di Roma by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. First state of 7, published in 1751. Size 40 x 55 cm.
This beautiful view shows the Trevi fountain at back side of Palazzo Poli. With its size of almost 50 meters wide and 26 meters high, it is the most famous fountain of Rome. Sea god Oceanus rides a shell-shaped chariot that is pulled to the ocean by winged horses and young tritons (sea gods). One horse is calm, the other prancing. It symbolizes the two faces of the sea. In two niches on the left and right there are statues of Abundance and Salubrity.
When Piranesi (1720-1778) first arrived in Rome around 1740, the city with its abundance of monuments offered the most impressive cityscape in Europe. The old, once powerful, Rome was enriched in that period with baroque facades of basilicas, palaces and urban exuberance such as the Spanish Steps and the Trevi fountain.
Piranesi is best known for his views of Rome which are portrayed in his series Vedute di Roma that he began in 1748 and continued to work on for the remainder of his life. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who had been taught the art of etching by Giuseppe Vasi, transformed the conventional views as practiced by his master and altered them into his own view of heroic antiquity. Having been trained as an architect and as a result of his interest in archaeology he was in a unique position to portray Roman classicism to his contemporaries.