The sculpture of Antonio Canova (1757 – 1822) is so smooth and so white and so large, so full of energy and emotion that I just want to run my fingers over them. I’m not allowed, of course.
You may recognize his sculptures since they are spread far and wide across the world. Click on the links below for a small sample of some of his most famous works worldwide.
- Dedalus and Icarus and Orpheus and Eurydice in the Correr museum in Venice;
- Theseus slaying the Minotaur in Vienna;
- Pauline Bonaparte in the Galleria Borghese in Rome;
- Napoleon in London;
- the Three Graces in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg;
- Cupid and Psyche (see photo), in The Louvre in Paris.
To see copies of his most famous works as well as hundreds of his original sculptures all in one place, visit the Gipsoteca Canoviana in Canova’s hometown of Possagno, north of Venice. Canova worked primarily in Rome, with frequent trips to Paris and London, but he returned to Possagno often.
His sun-filled home, studio and gigantic Gipsoteca with courtyard are a great way to spend several hours, and gain a good understanding of the style and technique of the artist who was one of the founders of the neo-classical style.
In addition to rooms and rooms of sculpture, the visitor also gets a unique behind-the-scenes look: Canova’s tools and sketches are on display, as is a detailed description of the innovative process he created in order to mass produce his designs, which involved making a plaster cast of a smaller scale clay or wax model, and then piercing it with small nails in order to accurately transfer the proportions when creating the larger marble piece.
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