Living Rome: The art of Antonio Canova in Rome
Antonio Canova (1757 - 1822) was born in a small town in northern Italy from a family of stone cutters, and the art of drawing was taught to him by his grandfather, so it is not surprising that the artist started sculpting marble in his youth .
In his early adolescence Canova in fact went to work with the sculptor Torretti, learning and refining his skills. When the aforementioned master later moved to Venice, the young Canova also went to live in the lagoon city where he was able to gain experience bringing back on paper the casts of famous ancient sculptures present on the sumptuous Venetian palaces.
After this necessary introduction to the life of Antonio Canova, here is a quick overview of some places in Rome where you can admire his most beautiful works left in Italy.
Inside the Basilica of the Holy Apostles, that of St. Peter, in the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art and in Villa Borghese there are in fact the aforementioned works by Canova.
The influence of Rome and neoclassicism on Canova
The initial success deriving from his new activity as a sculptor generated funds to allow Canova to go to Rome in 1779 and later in 1781. Both journeys opened his eyes to neoclassicism, a style that rose in reaction to the Rococo.
Neoclassicism, among other things, aimed to take up the spirit of the classical world, in particular the art of ancient Greece and of Rome itself, furthermore favored order, heroism and idealized human forms.
In this sense, the figures had a perfect anatomy without scars, wrinkles or imperfections compared to people in real life. What is striking in this form of art are also repressed emotions and stoic expressions even when represented in highly dramatic or emotional scenes.
Given this, it should also be added that during this period of studies in Rome, Canova went as far as the archaeological excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii in order to optimize his neoclassical knowledge.
Apart from the most famous works like the one called Teseo and the Minotauro (1781 - 1782) which is considered his first great neoclassical work and kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, it is important to underline that in Rome it is possible to admire others of not less importance.
In fact, in 1783 Canova was commissioned to create the tomb of Pope Clement XIV and once the work was completed it aroused the interest of many visitors.
Among the most beautiful works to admire today in the sumptuous Roman palaces, there is certainly the sculpture depicting Paolina Bonaparte lying on a classic sofa; in particular it was commissioned to Canova by the Borghese family and it is for this reason that it is still present today within the homonymous structure.
One of the major focal points of Canova's work and which still enjoys enormous success, it must certainly be sought in the position with which Napoleon's sister was carved, the intent of Canova was in fact to portray it as a sort of Venus, seen the undisputed beauty that at that time elected her one of the most beautiful empresses in Europe.
On the sidelines we can therefore say that traveling around Rome during a short or long term vacation, with a stay in the center or in neighboring areas, means discovering new places of historical and cultural interest and appreciating even more the sculptures of the Venetian master Antonio Canova.
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