You are here

Rare Books

Rare Book Division
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Curator of Rare Books


Collecting Piranesi at Princeton dates before 1884, the year in which Frederic Vinton published his Subject-Catalogue of the Library of the College of New Jersey and listed several folios of plates shelved in "Cabinet" in the Chancellor Green Library. (See entry for "Rome - Description of the ancient city and its vicinity"). Over the years, collecting has expanded to include holdings in the Marquand Art Library and in the Art Museum, resulting reach covering Piranesi's work in the following categories: early architectural fantasies, views of Rome and environs, archaeological works, theoretical and polemical treatises, and works of design and decoration. Donors to the collection have included Elmer Adler, Barr Ferree, Walter L. Bogert, Mrs. Edwin H. Denby, and others. Several purchases have augmented the Library's holdings such as the acquisition in December, 1969 of a copy in 26 plates of the Vedute di Roma [(Ex)NA310.P68.1740e]. The most recent has been a copy of the artist's own single sheet Catalogo delle Opere (1776) [(Ex) 2007-0052E].

As pointed out in Andrew Robison's article listed below, an important feature of the Princeton collection is that it is one of those which point out the need to correct, and even more, to expand and change the emphasis of the classical catalogues. For example, Robison indicates that Princeton has the always fascinating possession of a previously undescribed etching by Piranesi as well as a complete copy of a work which was known to the older scholars only in one incomplete version. For particulars refer to: Andrew Robison, "Giovanni Battista Piranesi: Prolegomena to the Princeton Collections" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XXXI, 3 (Spring, 1970) pp. 165-206 [full text]. The Robison article has a rather detailed bibliographical account of many of the holdings in the collection. Note: The Carceri once bound in the composite volume with call number (Ex) NA310 .P66e are separately matted and held in the Graphic Arts Dept., as [(GA) GC092] Piranesi Prints Collection.

See also Francesco Piranesi's Pianta delle fabriche esistenti nella Villa Adriana in the Marquand Art Library [(SAX) NA324 .P57e] and the article about the Pianta by John Pinto in the Princeton University Library Chronicle LV, 1 (Autumn, 1993) pp. 63-84 [full text].

[Reference tip: See Opere di Giovanni Baptista Piranesi, an image database of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's original etchings from Opere di Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Francesco Piranesi e d'altri (published by Firmin Didot Freres, Paris, 1835-1839), which are preserved in the University of Tokyo Library's Kamei Collection. This is a remarkable reference and research tool.]