Evidence of a lost book created by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, one of the greatest printmakers of the 18th century, has been discovered through previously-unpublished drawings that were created on the back of fragments of printed texts.
Scholars have been taken aback by the discovery after reconstructing what they describe as the Italian master’s “trash” – irregular scraps cut from printers’ proofs bearing quotations from ancient writings, including the Roman poet Juvenal.
Paper was by far the most expensive component of an early modern book, and Piranesi did not waste this resource. On bits and pieces of recycled paper, he created two exquisite drawings depicting printers hard at work, perhaps feverishly sketched in a workshop.
The drawings, in pen and brown ink, appear on the back of printed texts relating to ancient tombs in Rome, a subject that fascinated Piranesi in the early 1750s. He even became directly involved with excavations of ancient sites.
The discovery was made by Carolyn Yerkes, associate professor of Early Modern Architecture at Princeton University, and Heather Hyde Minor, professor of art history at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. They will include it in their forthcoming book, titled Piranesi Unbound, to be published by Princeton University Press on September 1.
Read more via The Telegraph