From 1745 Giovanni Battista Piranesi restored and sold Roman antiquities at his workshop on the Corso in Rome. He also created his own classical-style structures and created etchings of them for publication.
Having had the benefit of the finest teachers, and classical architectural training, his ability as an artisan and etcher, and his dedication to the recording and restoring of Roman antiquities, led to his being elected honorary a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London in 1757.
Piranesi’s love of classical structures was reflected in his imaginative restoration of the antiquities he found. He used elements from antique Roman carvings on his stonework commissions for his patrons and collectors. Piranesi was also commissioned to do restoration work at the Vatican. In 1766 Pope Clement XIII recognized the quality of Piranesi's work when he awarded him the Order of the Spur... after which Giovanni Battista Piranesi usually signed his work Cavalier Piranesi.
Piranesi was a graphic artist of technical brilliance and great expressive range. He gained recognition for his superb etchings, in which he emulated the method of intaglio engraving when he drew a series of even parallel lines similar to those produced manually with a burin in engraving. Piranesi's style of etching gave him the freedom of drawing as his needle pierced the resin (wax) ground over the copperplate. An acid-wash etched through the carved lines, and provided great flexibility in creating irregular or varied lines and strongly defined tonal contrasts.
Giambattista Piranesi is perhaps most famous today for his superb prints of Vases - usually referred to as Urns. Original 18th century etchings of these are available from Antique Print Club. Not always available - or affordable - Heritage Editions reproduction prints are wonderful substitutes. They are inexpensive and suit even contemporary décor.