撰文及考題設計／British Council 英協教育中心 Brian Welter 中譯／陳怡君 （中央社編譯）
A small, curving palm tree grows out of still water. Enormous chunks of fallen buildings, mostly columns which once held up heavy structures, lay in pieces on their side, sticking out of the water. In the background, a few people are standing around, fishing, or talking. Behind the people are enormous Roman ruins, several stories high, only half standing and mostly roofless. Bushes and other plants grow out of the walls. We are looking at the artwork of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who lived between 1720 and 1778.
Born in Venice, the young Piranesi spent time working as an architect and artist in his native city. Always strong-tempered, he worked first with his uncle until they had a disagreement. In the eighteenth-century, artists and architects learned by doing. They didn’t go to university, but worked under the direction of a skilled master. In his early career, Piranesi worked under many masters because of his varied interests and his difficult personality.
When he went to Rome for the first time in his early twenties, he worked continuously to better understand the city and portray its ancient buildings, walls, statues, and fountains. He spent day after day looking throughout the city for ancient artifacts, such as lost coins or crumbling ruins. He studied the ancient city’s history, reading Latin and looking at old building plans. He applied what he knew about architecture to the old buildings, imagining how they must have looked in their best days and how the ancient Romans had designed and built them.
In particular, Piranesi became famous in his own day for his etchings and engravings. To etch a picture, we use acid to make marks, such as lines or the shape of buildings, on a metal plate. To engrave a picture, we cut into a metal plate.
Much of Piranesi artwork was large, depicting wide views of neighborhoods: buildings and ruins, wide streets and public spaces, and the trees and hills of Rome. This style is called veduta. These paintings showed the large areas of a city in great detail. There were many veduta artists in Rome at this time. Tourists from northern Europe would buy this artwork to take back with them to their own country.
Despite his love for the city of two thousand years ago, Piranesi often portrayed the remains of ancient Rome as he saw them in his day, surrounded by skulls and other bones, broken lanterns, books and scattered paper. There was a mixture of the ancient and the more modern in these scenes. Much of his artwork portrayed eighteenth-century Rome much better than it did the ancient city.
This must have troubled Piranesi, because one of his key goals was to show ancient Rome not in separate scenes, but in its unity. He believed that Rome’s greatness was in the spirit of the ancient city as a whole. He believed that the Rome of his day had lost this greatness, but could recover it. 這想必困擾著皮拉奈奇，因為他主要的目標之一是完整地、而非片段式的呈現古代羅馬。他深信羅馬的偉大必須包含古城的精神。他相信他那時的羅馬已經失去它的雄偉，但是可以回復的。
Yet eighteenth-century Rome was a mixture of the many architectural and artistic styles that had come and gone in the centuries since the end of antiquity. An ancient building would be next to a church from his own century, with a three-hundred year-old structure across the street. Piranesi disliked this chaos, and worked hard so that the Rome of his day could once again have a unified spirit.
Despite his love for Rome, the great artist traveled a lot. Once he had to go back to Venice because of money troubles. The Italy of his day was not a united country where Italians could live wherever they wanted. He first went to Rome to work for the representative of the government of Venice. When that job ended, he had to leave.
When he was able to return a few years later, he took up his art and architectural work again. In this second Roman period of his life, he became famous. Occupying a large building near the main street in the city at the time, his place became a center for trading ancient coins and other small things, buying and selling veduta paintings, and studying ancient art and architecture. Until his last day, Piranesi continued to study architectural plans of ancient buildings and read other old documents to better understand the ancient city. 數年後有機會重返羅馬，他於是重拾建築與藝術事業。第二度的羅馬生涯中，他逐漸享有名聲。他的住所是矗立於市中心主要大街上的宏偉建築，亦成為古代錢幣與各種玩物及景觀畫派畫作的交易或交換處，也是古典藝術與建築的研究中心。直至人生的最後一天，皮拉奈奇依舊持續鑽研古老的建築藍圖以及其他古代文稿，以求更了解這座古城。
His son Francesco followed this interest, and continued this work after his father’s death. Because of political instability and the resulting violence, Francesco had to leave for Paris, where he took much of his father’s work with him.
Piranesi’s work today is considered a great example of eighteenth-century art and that period’s love for ancient Rome.