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Veduta del Ponte Molle (View of Ponte Molle), 1762
After Giovanni Battista Piranesi's drawing
Etching. 438 x 675 mm
Inventory number: E318
Dramatic is the word to be applied to this view of the Ponte Molle, the bridge which, according to the text accompanying Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s etching, crosses the Tiber “due miglio lontan a Roma”, or two Roman miles – about 3 kilometres – from Rome. The dramatic effect derives partly from the fact that Piranesi has created his view of the bridge as though it is seen completely from below, in a “worm’s eye view”, and partly as a result of the striking contrast between light and shade. As Piranesi developed and established himself as an artist, he deliberately aimed at adding drama to his views. In order to achieve such a result, he would repeatedly revise his drawing on the printing plate. In extreme cases, he alternated ten or twelve times between sketching on the printing plate, placing the plate in a bath of acid so as to allow the chemical process to etch his lines down into the plate, and finally returning to the drawing process again. This demanded his considerable skill as a craftsman, but also a great deal of patience in order to create views containing so many shades of grey.
Thorvaldsen visited Ponte Molle several times to take part in festivities arranged by the society known by the Scandinavian and German artists as the Ponte Molle Society. Read more in the Archives about the festivities by means of which newly arrived artists were introduced into Rome’s artistic environment.