Conceived to commemorate the tercentenary of the birth of Piranesi in 2020 but delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Public Works (OPW) presents the international exhibition For the Love of the Master, 25 artists fascinated by Piranesi to celebrate the legacy of this versatile Roman artist in the 21st century.
Between his birth near Venice in 1720 and his death in Rome in 1778, Giovanni Battista Piranesi became renowned as an etcher, engraver, designer, architect, archaeologist and theorist. A fascination with Piranesi continues to influence architects, artists and designers long after his death. Twenty-five artists from eleven countries were selected to pay homage to Piranesi’s drawings, engravings and reassembled antiquities in a variety of media.
Piranesi and Ireland
James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont (1728–1799), met Piranesi during his Grand Tour travels in Italy. The friendly relationship between patron and artist was short-lived; their falling-out over the earl’s withdrawn patronage became a public scandal. Nonetheless, Charlemont’s fascination with Piranesi and the artist’s influence on the rise of Neoclassicism remained and eventually led to the building of the Casino at Marino, which today ranks as one of the most beautiful neoclassical architectural gems of Europe.
At the Coach House Gallery in Dublin Castle, a copy of the original four-volume folio Antichità Romane, the commission that caused the public quarrel and rejection by the Earl of Charlemont, is on public display for the first time in Ireland’s capital city thanks to a generous loan from the Armagh Robinson Library. These volumes are juxtaposed with contemporary ceramics, glass, prints, drawings, and photographs. At the Casino at Marino, the neoclassical architecture provides the style and atmosphere of the 18th century as a backdrop for the contemporary artworks.
The curators of the exhibition are Hélène Bremer, Dutch art historian and curator, and Mary Heffernan, General Manager Dublin Castle and Director on OPW’s Art Management Committee, with the assistance of Dr Matt J. Smith, artist and curator.
The scenographers of the exhibition are architects Prof. Caroline Voet and Leen De Brabandere from Antwerp, Belgium
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