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Piranesi based this design on the ruins of the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum. The fire of Vesta, goddess of the household hearth, was guarded by six Vestal Virgins. Once a year on June 15 the ashes were ritually thrown into the Tiber. Prone to damage by fire, the temple was restored by Julia Domna, wife of the Emperor Septimus Severus in 191 AD. Its design was hugely influential, inspiring, for example, Sir John Soane's late 18th century façade design for the Bank of England. Soane met Piranesi in Rome when the latter was an old man.
- Tempio antico inventato e disegnato alla maniera di quelli che si fabbricavano in onore della Dea Vesta: quindi vedesi in nmezzo la grand' Ara, sopra della quale conservavasi dalle Vergini Vestali l'inestinguibile fuoco sacro .... (Imaginary ancient temple designed in the style of those built in honour of the Goddess Vesta: in the centre is the great altar on which the Vestal Virgins preserved the inextinguishable sacred fire ...).
- Production date
- 393 x 247 mm
- Gio Batta Piranesi Arch, Inv; Ed Incise in Roma L'Anno 1743
- Credit line
- Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, bequest of Dr Walter Auburn, 1982
- Accession no
- Other ID
- 017 Auburn Catalogue
- No known copyright restrictions
- International Art
- Display status
- Not on display
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