Piranesi was an Italian etcher, archaeologist, designer, theorist, and architect. An ardent lover of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian architecture, Piranesi was the son of a stonemason and builder, and first studied drawing with his uncle, an engineer. When he was twenty, he moved to Rome and began a careful study of the city's ancient monuments. He began etching inventive views of ancient ruins and modern Roman structures, images that brought him great popularity, and later began a series of etchings of fantastic prison interiors. During his fifties, Piranesi's interest in archaeology took him to southern Italy, where he produced drawings and etchings of Greek architecture. In 1767 he was made a knight of the Golden Spur, which enabled him henceforth to sign himself "Cavaliere Piranesi". In 1769 his publication of a series of ingenious and sometimes bizarre designs for chimneypieces, as well as an original range of furniture pieces, established his place as a versatile and resourceful designer. In 1776 he created his best known work as a 'restorer' of ancient sculpture, the Piranesi Vase, and in 1777–78 he published Avanzi degli Edifici di Pesto (Remains of the Edifices of Paestum). During an expedition, ill health forced him to return to Rome, where he died at the age of fifty-eight.