A letter of 1774 from William Chambers to a former student living in Rome draws attention to that city’s seminal importance in architectural education. “Converse much with Artists of All Countrys particularly foreigners,” Chambers wrote. “Seek for those who have most reputation. … Amongst which forget not Piranesi, who you may See in my name, he is full of Matter, extravagant ’tis true, often Absurd, but from his overflowings You may gather much information. … Form if you can a style of Your own,” he urged, “in which endeavour to avoid the faults and blend the Perfections of all.”1 Thus Chambers advocated an eclectic design process for which the Rome of Giovanni Battista Piranesi furnished the crucible. Both books discussed in this review reinforce the wisdom of Chambers’s remarks and elucidate the role played by publications of new archaeological finds.

Prestel’s handsome second edition of John Wilton-Ely’s Piranesi, Paestum...

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