About this artwork

This refined drawing illustrates the beauty of Piranesi’s draughtsmanship and the care with which he planned his prints; it is identical in size to the etching it is a preparation for, which is displayed beside it. The roof of the mausoleum is not yet completed, but a light sketch on the verso explores the solution eventually chosen for this part of the composition. Transferring the drawn design to the copper plate from which the etching was printed probably involved simply incising the main outlines of the architecture on the drawing with a stylus and then taking a tracing from it. Pin holes along the bottom edge of the sheet may have been made when it was secured during this process. The tracing was then transferred to the plate, which was subsequently etched. The details of the architecture could be worked up on the plate. Once it was inked and an impression pulled from it, the etching appeared as a mirror image of the composition on the plate and the preparatory drawing. 

  • title:
    An Antique Mausoleum
  • accession number:
    D 964
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • materials:
    Pen, brown ink and grey wash, over black chalk, on paper
  • date created:
    1740 - 1743
  • measurements:
    34.70 x 24.30 cm
  • credit line:
    David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910

Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Giovanni Battista Piranesi