The Material Culture Forum is delighted to welcome Professor Caroline van Eck (Art History, Cambridge) to discuss her recent book, Piranesi’s Candelabra and the Presence of the Past: Excessive Objects and the Emergence of a Style in the Age of Neoclassicism (Oxford, 2023). In this book, Caroline explores three candelabra that were made by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1779) by combining fragments of Roman sculpture with new additions. Contrary to Piranesi’s claims that he had found these artefacts ‘tale quale’ near Tivoli, these enigmatic assemblages of past and present were in fact newly created antiquities.

In this session, Caroline will consider the complexities of these candelabras’ object biographies – and how they contribute towards a new art history that starts from the presence and agency of artefacts.