Title:Pier tableArtist:Giovanni Battista Piranesi Date:c. 1768Creation Place:Europe, Italy, RomeCredit Line:The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip FundAccession Number:64.70
This table is one of the few pieces of Giovanni Piranesi’s furniture to survive. A printmaker, archaeologist, architect, and designer, Pirinesi greatly contributed to Europe’s renewed interest in the ancient world through his numerous etchings of Roman ruins. In 1769 he published Diverse Manners of Ornamenting Chimneys and All Other Parts of Houses, a collection of imaginative designs for clocks, vases, chimneypieces, and even coaches.
This table, which is illustrated in the book, is one of a pair made for the Roman state apartments of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Rezzonico, nephew of Pope Clement XIII. Its companion is in Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum. Piranesi drew from several ancient designs. He modeled the legs, carved like winged chimeras (part-lion, part-goat mythological monsters), after bronze tripods that were found at Pompeii and Herculaneum. He based the ox skulls on Roman funerary motifs. The palmettes, also on the frieze, are taken from Greek decorations.