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Piranesi

The Imaginary Prisons

1.11. – 7.12.2003

This exhibition presented Piranesi's most celebrated series of etchings, The Imaginary Prisons. Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), perhaps best known for his views of ancient and modern Rome, created powerful works of imaginary architectural settings. His prison series images of cavernous spaces have a nightmarish quality that gripped the Romantic Artists for a century after his death. Their enduring influence can be seen in the contemporary futuristic urban visions of cinema.


Ten years after they were originally published in the late 1740s, Piranesi reworked The Imaginary Prisons series, darkening them both literally and figuratively. This exhibition showed both versions side by side, providing a revealing insight into the creative process. Also presented were some of the finest of the British Museum's Piranesi drawings.

Related media and links

Press Release  PDF