Gian Paolo Panini

piacenza 1691 – 1765 rome

the arch of of constantine, meta sudans and arch of titus

23 x 42″, oil on canvas

  • Exhibitions
  • SFO Airport Museum, All Roads Lead to Rome: 17th-19th Century Souvenirs from the Collection of Piraneseum, January 24-August 13, 2017

This realistic, later 18th century view, at the southeastern edge of the Roman Forum, includes the Arch of Constantine (left), Arch of Titus (right, distance), and the no longer extant Meta Sudans (right, foreground). This last, an unusual form of fountain with a metal sphere mounted atop a slender, marble-faced cone (fig. 1), was in ruins by the Middle Ages, before being demolished in 1936, on the order of Mussolini, to widen a Roman street.

Figure 1. Meta Sudans (1641) Antiquae Urbis Splendor

This painting, by the foremost 18th c. artist of Roman ruins – Gian Paolo Panini – came relatively late in his oeuvre. Another, nearly identical example, though a bit smaller, in Prague’s National Gallery, is dated to 1764. A further version is at Chatsworth House, England.

Unusually, Panini’s original preparatory sketch survives, in the collection of the Courtauld Institute, London. (fig. 2)