Illumination of the Cross in St. Peter's on Good Friday by Francesco Piranesi
Illumination of the Cross in St. Peter’s on Good Friday by Francesco Piranesi

Illumination of the Cross in St. Peter’s on Good Friday

Illumination of the Cross in St. Peter’s on Good Friday c1787 by Italian Engraver, Etcher and Architect Francesco Piranesi (1758-59 – 1810), after a painting by French Painter and Architect Louis Jean Desprez (1743 – 1804)

This image is a first proof (of two) drawing and etching by Francesco Piranesi; which was then colorized in water color by Louis Jean Desprez, with added touches of gold; and it depicts a Good Friday event of the Illumination of the Cross in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, which is an enclave in Rome.

Construction of the Basilica was begun under Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere 1443 – 1513) in 1506 and completed in 1615 under Pope Paul V ( Camillo Borghese 1552 – 1621).

The depiction of the illumination of the Cross is quite dramatic, as the shadows and lighting are so beautifully done with an array of layers.

It seems as though this is a miraculous event that has occurred during the evening, as one can see the moon through one of the window panes; with many of the people within the Basilica are focused toward the cross with many of them on their knees, hands folded in prayer.

This is a remastered digital art old masters reproduction of a public domain image that is available as a canvas print online.

The following information is derived from Wikipedia.org

Francesco was the eldest son of Giovanni Battista Piranesi and his wife, Angela Pasquini in Rome on 1758 or 1759.

He and his sister Laura (1754 – 1789), who was also a noted engraver were both instructed in the art of engraving by their father; and by 1775 he was engraving his own works and helping his father with his works.

He later study engraving under Italian Engraver Giovanni Volpato (1735 – 1803), landscape painting under the German Painters Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737 – 1807) and his younger brother Georg (1755 – 1805); then completed his studies in Architecture with French Architect Pierre-Adrien Pâris (1745 – 1819).

In the early 1700s; 1770 and 1778 to be exact Francesco accompanied his father to the ancient ruins of Paestum an ancient Greek city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in Magna Graecia (Southern Italy), Pompei an ancient city Naples Italy, and Ercolano a town in the city of Naples; as part of a group of engravers that were collaborating with engraver Benedetto Mori (1785 – 1820) and Architect Augusto Rosa.

His father created a series of drawings that focused on Paestum, which he then completed; and soon after their second trip when his father passed away he acquired his fathers publishing house, where upon he would print later editions of his fathers work.

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