The two-volume edition, bound in the late 18th century, is offered by ArtMaximum in Brandenburg on August 24 with expectations of €70,000-140,000.
Vedute di Roma (The Views of Rome) was the work that made Giambattista Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) famous and helped create the Western vision of Rome as ‘the eternal city’ and the centrepiece of any Grand Tour of Europe.
It was an epic undertaking. The Venetian archaeologist, artist and architect began work on the series in 1747 and continued right up until his death in 1778. While single framed prints appear at auction with some frequency, the complete set numbers 134 plates depicting both ancient, Renaissance and modern buildings in Rome plus some views of Tivoli.
This album contains 121 etched double-page plates plus the folding plate titled Pianta di Roma e del Campo Marzio (A Great Plan of Rome and the Field of Mars).
As the plates were sold serially, clear dating of Piranesi print albums such as this is notoriously difficult. Most survivors mix ‘lifetime’ impressions with those published after 1778 when Piranesi's sons Francesco and Pietro inherited the workshop.
A total of 43 plates in this copy are considered ‘first state’ printings and at least 22 more are ‘lifetime’ impressions captioned with Piranesi's Palazzo Tomati address (where he moved in 1761).
The remainder are thought to have been printed by his sons some time before the 1790s when the prints were bound as two volumes in gilt morocco leather with marbled end papers.