This spring, Sir John Soane’s Museum is staging the second of two exhibitions looking at the relationship between Sir John Soane and the great Italian printmaker, antiquarian and architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78).
Taking two of Piranesi’s influential publications as starting points – his 1769 Diverse Maniere d’Adornare i Cammini… and Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi… of 1778 – the exhibition will display large-scale 3D prints, directly producing some of the extraordinary designs that Piranesi visualised in these publications, but never actually realised.
Working with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, and the renowned design studio Factum Arte, Madrid, the exhibition will showcase a collection of ‘sculptures’, realised using state-of-the-art 3D modelling and printing technologies to turn Piranesi’s work into physical forms.
The bronze tripods, ‘porphyry’ altars, gilt chairs, shell-shaped silver coffee pots and extravagant candelabra are all stunning examples of Piranesi’s interpretation of classical antiquity. These will be installed within the historic interiors of Sir John Soane’s Museum, where the display will resonate with Soane’s own ‘Piranesian’ arrangements of objects. In addition, the Soane Gallery will display seldom seen drawings from the Soane Office, which illustrate how Soane looked to Piranesi for inspiration, along with volumes of Piranesi prints from Soane’s Library (and from other collections), which illustrate the designs upon which Factum Arte have based their creations.