PORTLAND – “Architecture Real and Imaginary: Prints by Piranesi” from the Telfair Museum of Art will be exhibited at the Portland Museum of Art from Jan. 15 through March 13.

This exhibition, from the collection of the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Ga., has 38 prints by the Italian master etcher, Giovanni Battista Piranesi who lived from 1720-1778. Born near Venice and initially trained as an architect, Piranesi was the most influential etcher of the 18th century. A highly skilled draftsman and a prolific artist, he created more than 1,000 etchings.

Two series – “Triumphal Arches and Other Monuments” and “Views of Rome” – reflect the artist’s archaeological curiosity and romantic fascination with ancient architecture.

Piranesi’s prints were popular as refined travel souvenirs. His works transformed the European vision of classical antiquity; to this day his romanticized colossal ruins, with their dramatic scale and lighting, continue to serve as the standard image of Roman grandeur.

“Triumphal Arches and Other Monuments,” Piranesi’s first series of etchings, was published in Rome in 1748. Issued in several editions during the artist’s lifetime, these exquisite plates are subdivided into two parts: ruins outside Rome and those within. They are considered among the artist’s masterpieces. “Views of Rome,” of both ancient and contemporary elements of the city, originally had 135 plates that were produced individually by Piranesi from 1745 until his death.

A third series represented in this exhibition, “Imaginary Prisons,” includes some of his most remarkable works, depicting man as trapped in the vast gloom of imaginary dungeons, with fearsome machinery, gigantic towers and labyrinths of stairs and bridges.

The museum is on Congress Square in downtown Portland. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday.

Admission: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID, $2 for youth to 6 to 17; children under 6, free. Admission is free Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. For more information, call (207) 775-6148 or visit www.portlandmuseumofart.org.

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