2. The Church of Santa Costanza

View of the Church of Santa Costanza in Rome, ca. 1770
Colored etching published by Jacques Chéreau (1688–1776) in Paris
Grand Rapids Art Museum, 1982.2.3


A Paris chez Beauvais rue St. Jacques a St Nicolas / Veue de l’Eglise de Ste Constance autrefois le Temple de Baccus a Rome.
Ce Temple un des plus beaux restes de lancienne Rome se voit hors la porte Pie il est soutenu par 24 Colomnes de Marbre granite Alexandre IV le dédia a Ste Constance
Fille de Constantin le grand le tombeau de cette Ste voit derriere Lautel il est de porphyre les deux chandeliers acotéde l’autel sonts de Marbre antique

Along with a pronounced sense of linear perspective, reversed type just above the picture is a good indicator that a print was intended to serve as a vue d’optique; when viewed through the zograscope, the words would, of course, read correctly. Along with Georg Balthasar Probst (in Augsburg) and the Remondini publishing firm (in Bassano), the French publisher Jacques Chéreau was also a major producer of vues d’optique. This view of the interior of the Church of Santa Costanza in Rome introduces two important characteristics. First, the overwhelming majority of optical prints emphasize architecture: in order for the linear perspective to be enhanced, the picture must have lines that appear to recede toward a vanishing point. And second, these prints typically depict sites of some significance, landmarks that most viewers presumably would never have seen. In this case, the subject is the fourth-century church of Santa Costanza (originally constructed by Emperor Constantine as a mausoleum for his daughter), which was, because of its late classical iconography, mistakenly understood to have first been a temple to Bacchus.