Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian artist, etcher, and architect who contributed to the Neoclassical movement in art. One of his most famous works is “The Well,” which he created in 1761 as part of his “Carceri” series. The etching depicts the interior of a prison and showcases Piranesi’s intricate attention to detail.
“The Well” shows a deep cylindrical well in the center of a domed room, with prisoners located on various levels around it. The architecture is imposing and makes the prisoners seem small and insignificant relative to their surroundings. Piranesi’s use of light and shadow adds depth to the image, making it seem like you are descending into the depths along with the prisoners.
Piranesi’s prints depicting classical Roman buildings contributed significantly to Rome’s fame and classical archaeology. His work had an enduring impact on subsequent artists, including M.C. Escher. The intense amount of detail and realism displayed in “The Well” give valuable insight into 18th century prison architecture as well as artistic styles popular during that time period.