Porta Portese ol Portuensis


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Giuseppe Agostino Vasi (1710-1782) Illustrated plate from Delle Magnificenze di Roma antica e moderna. Rome, 1747-1761 Copperplate engraving; Sheet size: 11 ¾" x 16" Repaired loss at bottom center paper margin; discoloration in margins Giuseppe Vasi was born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1710. He began his studies in the Humanities at the Collegio Carolino di Palermo, but completed his education in Rome in 1736 as a student of architecture under Filippo Juvarra. He received a diploma, Maestro delle Arti, at the age of 26 and remained in Rome to begin his career as an engraver. His earliest work already places him among the royalty and nobility of Rome. The King of France commissioned etchings from him in 1739, and eventually King Carlo III would appoint Vasi the Chamberlain of Palazzo Farnese, where he would then set up his own workshop. Rome in the 18th Century was an important stop for European tourists and pilgrims who participated in The Grand Tour. These tourists, primarily the English and French, came to Rome intending to bring back a piece of classical antiquity with them. Italian natives soon realized the importance of keeping their country's relics at home, thereby making it difficult for an eager tourist to bring home a souvenir. Once it became more difficult for foreigners to secure actual objects, they turned to artistic reproductions as an alternative. It was here that Vasi makes his mark. These artistic renderings of ancient and modern architecture and events that could be seen in Rome were the primary subject matter for Vasi's etchings. By the 1740's he had his own studio and was arguably the most successful engraver of his time. Eventually, Vasi's work consisted mostly of views of modern Rome with an emphasis on the 18th century parades and festivals that were continuous throughout the city. Vasi's etchings enabled tourists and visitors to Rome to capture these fleeting events and retain a permanent "memory".