John Wilton-Ely, Giovanni Battista Piranesi,The Complete Etchings, Volume II, San Francisco,1994, page 1074, plate 993.
Exhibition catalogue, Musée de Louvre, D'après l'antique, Paris, 2000, page 154/155.
This rhyton is based on an etching by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 -1778) of a funerary monument depicting a marble rhyton terminating in a boar's head found in a tomb on the Via Appia, reproduced here in fig.1. In the ancient world the rhyton was a bacchic symbol and over the time became the symbol for Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. In the Louvre Museum, there is a pair of rhytons with spouts in the form of bull's heads, from the 1st century AD formerly in the Borghese collection, reproduced here in fig. 2. They originally flanked a statue of Ceres and were probably used on a late Roman fountain.
Furthermore, Napoleon's celebrated architect Charles Percier (1764-1838) drew these Borghese rhytons in his sketches of the Gladiator Hall in Villa Borghese, Rome (album Voyage à Rome 1786-1791).
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778):
Born in Venice in 1720, G.B. Piranesi went to Rome in 1740 as a draftsman for the Venetian ambassador. His unparalled accuracy of depiction, his personal expression of the dramatic and romantic grandeur of ancient Rome and his technical mastery made his works some of the most original and impressive representations of architecture to be found in Western art.
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