Antonio Canova (1757-1822)

Antonio Canova was a Venetian sculptor famous for his marble sculptures of nudes, delicately detailed and classically refined. Canova is the quintessential Neoclassical sculptor; his work marked a return to the classical order following the grandiose theatrics of the Baroque movement.

Both Canova s father and grandfather were stonecutters and as soon as young Antonio could hold a pencil, he began to follow into the family profession and quickly became attached to his art.

By 1775, Canova had opened his own studio and his first sculpture was deemed so realistic, that he was accused of making plaster casts from live models. In 1779, Canova settled in Rome, where he was strongly influenced by classical antiquity. Theseus Slaying the Centaur first established Canova s fame in Rome as a sculptor. The Theseus was admired much for the visible physical exhaustion of the victorious Theseus, while a simple and natural expression displays on his face. Canova s sculpture united the revered concepts of grandeur and truth.

Among Canova s greatest sculptures were the tombs for two popes, Clement XIII and Clement XIV, the former flanked by Canova s Grand Lions. Canova s sculpture of Cupid and Psyche, however, was the sculpture most admired by his contemporaries along with his other sculptures depicting the mythological.

Antonio Canova was the greatest sculptor of his time, dubbed the supreme minister of beauty and a unique and truly divine man. Until his death, Canova s renown grew throughout Europe, and eventually, the entire world.


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