Antonio Canova

1757 - 1822 / wikipedia
Antonio Canova (1 Nove. 1757 – 13 October 1822); Italian Neoclassical sculptor, famous for his marble sculptures. Often regarded as the greatest of the Neoclassical artists, 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.

Antonio Canova is considered the greatest Neoclassical sculptor of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Along with the painter Jacques Louis David, he was credited with ushering in a new aesthetic of clear, regularized form and calm repose inspired by classical antiquities. He was also renowned for his carving abilities and the refinement of his marble surfaces, which seemed as supple as real flesh.

Canova was born in northern Italy in the small town of Possagno in 1757 to a family of sculptors and stonecutters, including his grandfather, Pasino Canova, and his father, Pietro. Nineteenth-century biographies of the artist, in a tradition dating back to the Renaissance, suggest Canova’s artistic talent revealed itself at an early age when, as a young child, he carved a lion made out of butter at a dinner party. Although this has been dismissed as folklore by scholars, by age 14, he was apprenticed to the sculptor Giuseppe Bernardi, who was based first in Pagnano, near Asolo, then Venice. After Bernardi’s death in 1774, Canova entered the studio of Bernardi’s nephew, Giovanni Ferrari. In Venice, Canova was heavily influenced by casts of ancient works that he saw, particularly those in the collection of Filippo Farsetti, for whom he completed his first independent work, Two Baskets of Fruit. Larger, freestanding figural works followed, including Eurydice and Orpheus, completed for Senator Giovanni Falier in 1775–77, and Daedalus and Icarus for Procurator Pietro Pisani.

In 1779–80, Canova went on a “grand tour” of Italy, where he saw the...
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Karin Manley


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