Past Program

RISD in Rome: Perspectives on Piranesi

This drawing course at RISD's site in Rome will explore the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the engraver widely known for his picturesque illustrations of eighteenth century Rome, and his essential contribution to our contemporary understanding of antiquity.

Please Note: RISD has announced the cancellation of RISD Global Summer Studios 2020. Read more.


Global Summer Studios
  • Rome, Italy
Summer 2020

Course Dates: Jun 28, 2020 — Jul 19, 2020

Open to RISD students, Brown University students, non-RISD students

2.5 GPA required. Non-RISD participants see eligibility requirements below.

  • Drawing
  • Illustration
  • Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Academic Credits
  • Illustration
  • Interior Architecture
Course Numbers
  • INTAR/ILLUS-1520-01

Includes tuition, accommodation, studio space, transportation, field trips, entrance fees, group meals and international travel health insurance.

Italy: See Naples and Die
Paestum, Italy

About this Travel Course

Course Description

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the engraver, was also a skilled architect, surveyor, curator, antiquarian and archaeologist, creating one of the first comprehensible visualized catalogs of roman antiquities. His apprenticeships to engineers, theatrical scenographers and muralists in his native Venice, unquestionably guided his imagination and acumen for the delineation and understanding of urbanism, architecture, landscapes, and the interpretation of artifacts of roman antiquity. The “art and mind” of Piranesi continues to capture the imagination of even the most accomplished artists who study in Rome and remains a pivotal luminary used to orient studious visitors to the Eternal City and its vast visual metaphors and allusions.

The course will cover Piranesi’s essential contribution to our contemporary understanding of antiquity while presenting a practicum in the very image-making techniques used by Piranesi in the field. Workshops, tours and lectures take place on the very sites of the artist’s own discoveries, many which are emblematic of the scholarly and artistic pursuits of the Grand Tour at the forefront in Europe during Piranesi’s life.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the complexities of the Eternal City through the history of an equally complex figure whose name is synonymous with Rome of the 18th century - Piranesi’s continued relevance, scholarship, and legacy as an ambassador to art and design students in Rome within the numerous artistic practices he engaged
  • Model and produce original work from Piranesi’s techniques of field drawing and building survey, vanishing point perspective, and other approaches of archaeological illustration and the drawing of cities and landscapes
  • Visit and draw from the various streetscapes, landscapes and sites of antiquity through the eyes of Piranesi –visit and study from the archives, museums and archeological sites that are intrinsically linked to the life and work of Piranesi
  • Participate in workshops and interpret assigned readings with experts on the work of Piranesi, the history of 18th c. image-making, urbanism, architecture, archaeology, cartography and the cultural geographies of the cities we will visit
  • Comprehend Piranesi’s legacy on the role of “tourism” and dismantle the most superficial perceptions of Piranesi’s body of work and the places he depicted
  • Provide a cultural and historical understanding of the locations where we live, present the traditions and trials of the people our students will encounter: Rome’s Jewish Ghetto; the occupants of Rome’s former “favelas” (Borgate) of the Roman Campagna, the “bassi” or low-dwellers of the Spaccanapoli and Sanita’ neighborhoods in Naples; and the inheritors of the peasant-agronomist traditions of the Cilento.


To participate in RISD Global Summer Studios, all students are required to stay in RISD- provided housing for the duration of the course. Students live and work at the RISD site in Rome, Palazzetto Cenci, a 16th-century building in the historic center, where RISD has housed its European Honors Program (EHP) since 1960. Dorms are double occupancy with shared bathrooms, kitchens and laundry. The Cenci also includes several spacious studios, computer facilities, a library and a lecture hall/exhibition gallery. During field trips, students will also be provided with shared accommodation.


RISD Students

If your current cumulative GPA is 2.5 or above, you are eligible for registration. If your current cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, you must first contact the Registrar at to seek exception to this academic policy.

Non-RISD Participants

If you are a college student currently enrolled in another art/design college or institution around the world, or a professional practicing in the field, you are eligible for registration. We will collect a recommendation/support form from your institution/workplace.

In order to register for RISD Global summer studies, you are expected to have a high level of English (speech, writing, and comprehension) as all coursework and critique is delivered in English.

Attendance Policy

Global Summer Studios are three weeks long and take place in June/July, and you are required to attend all program activities scheduled during the travel course. RISD Global Summer Studios comply with RISD class attendance policy. In case of unexcused or multiple absences, you may be removed from the course, given a grade of “W" (withdrawal) or a grade of “F” (fail).

Withdrawal Policy

Requesting to withdraw from a RISD off-campus global learning program, including RISD Global Summer Studios, prior to the start of the course is highly discouraged and requires a formal process outlined in the RISD course withdrawal policy. It is not possible for a student to drop a RISD Global Summer Studios travel course via the standard Add/Drop process after it has commenced. In the case of unforeseen and extenuating circumstances (and only after students have spoken with the faculty lead and RISD Global for approval to withdraw from the program), students should be aware that no refund will be issued.

More Info

In order to reserve a seat, a non-refundable deposit of $1,500 is required at time of application submittal. Students will have 30 days from the date of their deposit to submit full payment. Students that fail to make full payment by their deadline will forfeit their $1,500 deposit and their seat in the course. New application submissions starting April 1 are not eligible to make a deposit and must make full payment by April 12, 2020.

All RISD students enrolled in RISD and other full degree schools/universities are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in Global Summer Studios. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is required for all RISD students. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course.

In cases where summer travel courses and studios do not reach full capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Global Summer Studios courses until the course is confirmed to run starting April 13, 2020.

Apply to Global Summer Studios

For summer 2021, RISD Global is offering 4 creative and culturally immersive art and design courses, all taught virtually for 3 weeks between June 7 – 25.

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1:1 Advising Session

Have questions? The RISD Global team is available to meet for a 1:1 advising session. We can give you more information about your study options, help you figure out which program makes sense for you, and assist you with the application process.

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