Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman: Piranesi and an eighteenth-century discussion
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One crucial debate that resonated in eighteenth-century Europe concerned the origins of European architecture whose effects continue to inform present-day notions of the same. Numerous important eighteenth-century works were produced in the context of emergence of the discipline of architectural history. In this architectural, historical, and archaeological framework, Venetian architect and scholar Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) played art important role by his visual and literary works as well as original approach to history. Piranesi developed a history of architecture that was not based on the East/West division and the separation of continents. In opposition to writers like Winckelmann who rooted the origin of Roman architecture in the Greek, he claimed that Roman architecture derived from the Etruscan which found its roots in Egypt. Discussion of roots depended on the eighteenth century on aesthetical theory interpreting Grecian architecture as 'beautiful' and Roman-thus Egyptian- as 'sublime'. It was in this lively intellectual environment that Piranesi searched the origins of Roman -and thus the whole European-architecture. His works were, however, misinterpreted as being Orientalist by contemporary scholars following Said.