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Antonio Canova

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Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova
Self-portrait, 1792
Born Antonio Canova
1 November 1757
Possagno, Republic of Venice
Died 13 October 1822(1822-10-13) (aged 64)
Venice, Lombardy–Venetia
Nationality Italian
Known for Sculpture
Notable work Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss,
The Three Graces,
Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker,
Venus Victrix
Movement Neo-Classical

Antonio Canova (Italian pronunciation: ; 1 November 1757 – 13 October 1822) was an Italian neoclassical sculptor, famous for his marble sculptures. Often regarded as the greatest of the neoclassical artists,[1] his artwork was inspired by the Baroque and the classical revival, but avoided the melodramatics of the former, and the cold artificiality of the latter.[2]

Biography

Possagno

In 1757, Antonio Canova was born in Possagno, Veneto to Pietro Canova, a stonecutter.[3] In 1761, his father died. A year later, his mother remarried. As such, in 1762, he was put into the care of his paternal grandfather Pasino Canova, who was a stone manson, owner of a quarry,[2] and was a "sculptor who specialized in altars with statues and low reliefs in late Baroque style".[3] He lead Antonio into the art of sculpting.

Prior to begin ten years old, Canova was already making models in clay, and carving marble.[4] Indeed, at the age of nine, he executed two small shrines of Carrara marble, which are still extant.[5] After these works, he appears to have been constantly employed under his grandfather.[5]

Venice

Orpheus, (1777)

In 1770,[3] he was an apprentice for two years[4] to Giuseppe Bernardi, who was also known as 'Torretto'. Afterwards, he was under the tutelage Giovanni Ferrari until he began his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.[3] At the Academy, he won several prizes.[5] During this time, he was given his first workshop within a monastery by some local monks.[4]

The Senator Giovanni Falier commissioned Canova to produce statues of Orpheus and Eurydice for his garden - the Villa Falier at Asolo.[6] The statues were begun in 1775, and both were completed by 1777. The pieces explify the late Rococo style.[6][7] On the year of its completion, both works were exhibited for the Feast of the Ascension in Piazza S. Marco.[2] Widely praised, the works won Canova his first renown among the Venetian elite.[3]

In 1779, he opened his own studio at Calle Del Traghetto at S. Maurizio,.[2] At this time, Procurator Pietro Vettor Pisani commissioned Canova's first marble statue: a depiction of Daedalus and Icarus.[2] The statue inspired great adirmation for his work at the annual art fair;[8] Canova was paid for 100 gold zecchini for the completed work.[2] At the base of the statue, Daedalus' tools are scattered about; these tools are also an allusion to Sculpture, of which the statue is a personification.[9] With such an intention, there is suggestion that Daedalus is a portrait of Canova's grandfather Pasino.[8]

Rome

Canova arrived in Rome, on 28 December 1780.[5] Prior to his departure, his friends had applied to the Venetian senate for a pension.[5] Successful in the application, the stipend alloted amounted to three hundred ducats, limited to three years.[5]

While in Rome, Canova spent time studying and sketching the works of Michelangelo.[3]

Theseus and the Minotaur, V&A, London

In 1781, Girolamo Zulian - the Venetian ambassador to Rome - hired Canova to sculpt Theseus and the Minotaur.[10] The statue depicts the victorious Theseus seated on the lifeless body of a Minotaur. The initial spectators were certain that the work was a copy of a Greek original, and were shocked to learn it was a contemporary work.[11] The work was regarded with fervent admiration. The work is now in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London.[10]

Canova then took to building the funerary monument of Clement XIV for the Church of Santi Apostoli.[4] He eventually completed it in 1787. He spent about two years arranging the design and composing the models for the tomb of the pontiff, and another two years to finishing the monument.[5] The work, in the opinion of enthusiastic dilettanti, stamped the author as the first artist of modern times.[5]

After five years, he completed another cenotaph in 1792; this one was to the memory of Clement XIII. Canova styled the piece to function in harmony with the Baroque funerary monuments in St. Peter's Basilica.[12]

In 1790, he began to work on a funerary monument for Titian; however, it was eventually abandoned by 1795.[3] During the same year, he increased his activity as a painter.[2]

The following decade was extremely productive,[5] beginning works such as Hercules and Lichas, Cupid and Psyche, Hebe, Tomb of Duchess Maria Christina of Saxony-Teschen, and The Penitent Magdalene.[13]

In 1797, he went to Vienna,[14] but only a year later, in 1798, he returned to Possagno for a year.[5][notes 1]

France & England

By 1800, Canova was the most celebrated artist in Europe.[3] He systematically promoted his reputation by publishing engravings of his works and having marble versions of plaster casts made in his workshop.[15] He became so successful that he had acquired patrons from across Europe including France, England, Russia, Poland, Austria and Holland, as well as several members from different royal lineages, and prominent individuals.[2] Among his patrons, Napoleon and his family was provided by Canova with much work, producing several depictations between 1803 and 1809.[1] The most notable representations were that of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker, and Venus Victrix which was portrayal of Pauline Bonaparte.

Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker had its inception after Canova was hired to make a bust of Napoleon in 1802. The statue was begun in 1803, with Napoleon requesting to be shown in a French General's uniform, Canova rejected this, insisting on an allusion to Mars, the Roman god of War.[16] It was completed in 1806.[17] In 1811, the statue arrived in Paris, but not installed; neither was its bronze copy in the Foro Napoleonico in Milan.[16] In 1815, the original went to the Duke of Wellington, after his victory at Waterloo against Napoleon.[17]

Venus Victrix ranks among the most famous of Canova's works. Originally, Canova wished the depictation to be of Diana, who could be represented with a robe, but Pauline insisted to appear nude.[18] The work was not intended for public viewing.[18]

Other works for the Napoleon family include, a bust of Napoleon, a statue of Napoleon's mother, and Marie Louise as Concordia.[4]

In 1802, Canova was assigned the post of 'Inspector-General of Antiquities and Fine Art of the Papal State', a position formerly held by Raphael.[2]

In 1814, he began his The Three Graces.[4]

In 1815, he was named 'Minister Plenipotentiary of the Pope,'[2] and was tasked with recovering various works of art that were taken to Paris by Napoleon.[5]

Also in 1815, he visited London, and met with Benjamin Haydon. It was after the advice of Canova that the Elgin marbles were acquired by the British Museum, with plaster copies sent to Florence, according to Canova's request.[5]

Returning to Rome, Venice, and Possagno

In 1816, Canova returned to Rome with some of the art Napoleon had taken. He was rewarded with several marks of distinction: he was appointed President of the Accademia di San Luca, inscribed into the "Golden Book of Roman Nobles" by the Pope's own hands,[4] and given the title of Marquis of Ischia, alongside an annual pension of 3000 crowns.[5]

In 1819, he commence and completed his commissioned work Venus Italica as a replacement for the Venus de' Medici.[19]

After his 1814 proposal to build a personified statue of Religion for St. Peter's Basilica was rejected, Canova sought to build his own temple to house it.[3] This project came to be the Tempio Canoviano. Canova designed, financed, and partly built the structure himself.[2] The structure was to be a testament to Canova's piety.[15] The building's design was inspired by combining the Parthenon and the Pantheon together.[2][4] On 11 July 1819, Canova laid the foundation stone dressed in red Papal uniform and decorated with all his medals.[15] It first opened in 1830, and was finally completed in 1836.[15] After the foundation-stone of this edifice had been laid, Canova returned to Rome; but every succeeding autumn he continued to visit Possagno to direct the workmen and encourage them with rewards.[5]

During the period that intervened between commencing operations at Possagno and his death, he executed or finished some of his most striking works. Among these were the group Mars and Venus, the colossal figure of Pius VI, the Pietà, the St John, and a colossal bust of his friend, the Count Cicognara.[5]

Washington on display at the North Carolina Museum of History

In 1820, he made a statue of North Carolina.[14]

In 1822, he journeyed to Naples, to superintend the construction of wax moulds for an equestrian statue of Ferdinand VII. The adventure was disastrous to his health, but soon became healthy enough to return to Rome. From there, he voyaged to Venice; however, on 13 October 1822, he died there at the age of 64.[5] As he never married, the name became extinct, except through his stepbrothers' lineage of Satori-Canova.[4]

On 12 October 1822, Canova instructed his brother to use his entire estate to complete the Tempio in Possango.[15]

On 25 October 1822, his body was placed in the Tempio Canoviano.[5] His heart was interred at the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, and his right hand preserved in a vase at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.[3][5][15]

His memoral service was so grand that it rivaled the ceremony that the city of Florence held for Michelangelo in 1564.[15]

In 1826, Giovanni Battista Sartori sold Canova's Roman studio and took every plaster model and sculpture to Possango, where they were installed in the Tempio Canoviano.[15]

Notable works

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss (1787)

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss was commissioned in 1787 by Colonel John Campbell.[20] It is regarded as a masterpiece of Neoclassical sculpture, but shows the mythological lovers at a moment of great emotion, characteristic of the emerging movement of Romanticism. It represents the god Cupid in the height of love and tenderness, immediately after awakening the lifeless Psyche with a kiss.

Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker (1802-1806)

Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker had its inception after Canova was hired to make a bust of Napoleon in 1802. The statue was begun in 1803, with Napoleon requesting to be shown in a French General's uniform, Canova rejected this, insisting on an allusion to Mars, the Roman god of War.[16] It was completed in 1806.[17] In 1811, the statue arrived in Paris, but not installed; neither was its bronze copy in the Foro Napoleonico in Milan.[16] In 1815, the original went to the Duke of Wellington, after his victory at Waterloo against Napoleon.[17]

Perseus Triumphant (1804-1806)

Detail of Perseus with the Head of Medusa

Perseus Triumphant, sometimes called Perseus with the Head of Medusa, was a statue commissioned by tribune Onorato Duveyriez.[21] It depicts the Greek hero Medusa.

The statue was based freely to the [22]

Napoleon, after his 1796 Italian Campaign, took the Apollo Belvedere to Paris. In the statue's absence, Pope Pius VII acquired Canova's Perseus Triumphant and placed the work upon the Apollo's pedstal.[23] The statue was so successful that when the Apollo was returned, Perseus remained as a companion piece.[24]

One replica of the statue was purchased from Canova by the Polish countess Valeria Tarnowska; it now resides in the [22][25]

Karl Ludwig Fernow said of the statue that "every eye must rest with pleasure on the beautiful surface, even when the mind finds its hopes of high and pure enjoyment disappointed."[26]

Venus Victrix (1805-1808)

Venus Victrix ranks among the most famous of Canova's works. Originally, Canova wished the depictation to be of Diana, who could be represented with a robe, but Pauline insisted to appear nude.[18] The work was not intended for public viewing.[18]

The Three Graces (1814-1817)

John Russell, the 6th Duke of Bedford, commissioned a version of the now famous work.[27] He had previously visited Canova in his studio in Rome in 1814 and had been immensely impressed by a carving of the Graces the sculptor had made for the Empress Josephine. When the Empress died in May of the same year he immediately offered to purchase the completed piece, but was unsuccessful as Josephine’s son Eugène claimed it (his son Maximilian brought it to St. Petersburg, where it can now be found in the Hermitage Museum). Undeterred, the Duke commissioned another version for himself.

The sculpting process began in 1814 and was completed in 1817. Finally in 1819 it was installed at the Duke’s residence in Woburn Abbey. Canova even made the trip over to England to supervise its installation, choosing for it to be displayed on a pedestal adapted from a marble plinth with a rotating top. This version is now owned jointly by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Galleries of Scotland, and is alternately displayed at each.

Artistic process

Canova's sculptures fall into three categories: Heroic compositions, compositions of grace, and sepulchral monuments.[5] In each of these, Canova's underlying artistic motivations were to challenge, if not compete, with classical statues.[2]

Canova refused to take in pupils and students,[3] but would hire workers to carve the initial figure from the marble. He had an elaborate system of comparative pointing so that the workers were able to reproduce the plaster form in the selected block of marble.[26] These workers would leave a thin veil over the entire statue so Canova's could focus on the surface of the statue.[26]

While he worked, he had people read to him select literary and historical texts.[3]

Last touch

During the last quarter of the eigthteenth century, it became fashionable to view art galleries at night by torchlight. Canova was an artist that lept on the fad and displayed his works of art in his studio by candlelight.[15] As such, Canova would begin to finalize the statue with special tools by candlelight,[3] to soften the transitions between the various parts of the nude.[26] After a little recarving, he began to rub the statue down with pumice stone, sometimes for period longer that weeks or months.[26] If that was not enough, he would use tripoli (rottenstone) and lead.[26]

He then applied a now unknown chemical-composition of patina onto the flesh of the figure to lighten the skin tone.[3] Importantly, his friends also denied any usage of acids in his process.[4]

Criticisms

Conversations revolving around the justification of art as superfluous usually invoked the name of Canova.[15]

Karl Ludwig Fernow believed that Canova was not Kantian enough in Canova's aesthetic, because emphasis seemed to have been placed on agreeableness rather than Beauty.[26]

Canova was also faulted for creating works that were artificial in complexity.[2]

Legacy

The Museo Canoviano located in Possagno near Asolo

Canova spent large parts of his fortune helping young students and sending patrons to struggling sculptors,[14] including Sir Richard Westmacott and John Gibson.

He was introduced into various orders of chivalry.[4]

The Romantic period artists buried Canova's name soon after he died, but he is slowly being rediscovered.[3]

Comemorations

Gallery

Notes

  1. ^ The Glory of Venice: Art in the Eighteenth Century states (pg. 441) that Canova left Venice when it fell, tried to escape to America and then went to Possagno. The fall of Venice was in 1796. There appears to be some gap in knowledge that would correct or amend these accounts. The first reference to Vienna is an online source, the second is the Encylopaedia Britannica, 1911 which has already proven itself incorrect in some areas. The Glory of Venice has proven itself more accurate, but it is undated, leaving speculation of time frame.
  2. ^ Napoleon ordered it for the Corso in Milan; Emperor Franz I bought it for the Theseus Temple in the Volksgarten in Vienna; moved to Kunsthistorisches Museum in 1891.

References

  1. ^ a b "Neo-Classical", The Dictionary of Art: volume XXII, ed. Jane Turner, in thirty-four volumes, 1996. Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1998. Print.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Jean Martineau & Andrew Robinson, The Glory of Venice: Art in the Eighteenth Century. Yale University Press, 1994. Print.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Canova, Antonio", The Dictionary of Art: volume V, ed. Jane Turner, in thirty-four volumes, 1996. Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1998. Print.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s : volume V. 1991. Web."Canova, Antonio", Encyclopaedia Britannica
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Oskar Batschmann, The Artist in the Modern World: A Conflict Between Market and Self-Expression. DuMont Bunchverlag, 1997. Print.
  16. ^ a b c d
  17. ^ a b c d
  18. ^ a b c d
  19. ^
  20. ^ Johns, C.M.S. (1998) Antonio Canova and the Politics of Patronage in Revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, p. 149.
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^ Christopher M. S. Johns, Antonia Canova and the Politics of Patronage in Revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe. University of California Press, 1998. Web. - p. 25
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h Satish Padiyar, Chains: David, Canova, and the Fall of the Public Hero in Postrevolutionary France. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007.
  27. ^ The Three Graces. Victoria & Albert Museum, 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.

External links

  • (second version)Three GracesCanova's in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2000). One of three Flickr photos by ketrin 1407.
  • Perseus and MedusaCanova's in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009). Part of Flickr set by ketrin1407.
  • Europe in the age of enlightenment and revolution, a catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Canova (see index)
  • Antonio Canova: Photo Gallery
  • Canova's death mask at Princeton
  • Canova museum and plaster cast gallery
  • Canova 2009 Exhibition in Forlì, Italy
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