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Etching and engraving, 415 x 545 mm. Robison 36, 2nd state (of 6), 1st issue of the 2nd edition; Focillon 33 ; Hind 10
Plate X of Carceri d’Invenzione [‘Imaginary prisons’] or Invenzioni capric. di carceri [‘Fanciful Images of Prisons’].
Impression of the 2nd state (of 6 according to Robison) with the addition of several objects including a wooden bridge upper right and a beam with heavy chains projecting in from the right edge, but before the Roman numeral.
This edition was published by Piranesi himself in 1761. It is the first issue of the print reworked by Piranesi for the second edition of the Carceri.
Superb impression printed on laid watermarked paper (fleur-de-lys in a double circle). In excellent condition. Usual vertical crease in center of the sheet. Full margins (sheet: 520 x 780 mm).
“There are many prisoners, which seems in order for prisons. However, they are not behind bars as you would expect, but, just like heraldic or decorative figures on trophies of arms, they are seated and bound or chained for all wanderers to see, at the mercy of the elements whose presence can be guessed at in spaces that are apparently only limited by the edges of the copperplate. Max-Pol Fouchet justly writes that ‘the cruelty that is evident in the picture consists precisely in giving the captives a space that looks like freedom, but in reality is given so that the convict will be lost in the void.’” (Maxime Préaud: « Les prisons libres et closes de Jean-Baptiste Piranèse », in Revue de la BnF, 2010/2 (no. 35), pp. 11 to 17, [our translation]).