Canova in Rome 'Eternal Beauty’

16 Nov 2019

Lot-Art had the pleasure to visit ‘Canova. Eternal Beauty’, an exhibition devoted to the link between Canova and the city of Rome, the forge of his genius and a boundless source of inspiration in the 18th and 19th centuries, has opened on 9 October 2019 and will run until 15 March 2020 at the Museo di Roma in Palazzo Braschi.

The exhibition features over 170 artworks among which prestigious loans from major museums, Italian and foreign collections to tell the story of the artist’s relationship with the city. It is divided into thirteen sections that illustrate Canova’s art and the context he encountered upon arriving in Rome in 1779.


Left: Antonio Canova, Self-Portrait, 1824, plaster; Right: Bottega Romana of the early XIX century, Heads from the Colossi at the Quirinale, post-1822, plaster mold

The itinerary begins with the story of the 22 years old Antonio Canova (1757-1822), who decided to travel to Rome to study. Canova is identified by the art community as the finest interpreter of the aesthetic ideals professed by Winckelmann, the father of Neoclassicism. He was appointed as an “Inspector of Fine Arts” in 1802.


Left: Antonio Canova, Clemente XIV, c.1783, terracotta; Right: Antonio Canova, Penitent Magdalene, 1796, marble

The exhibition also explores the relationship between the sculptor and the literature of his time. A small section is devoted to the connection between Canova and Alfieri, whose tragedy Antigone, staged in Rome in 1782, presents more than one area for reflection with regard to Canova’s figurative revolution.
The Monument to Clement XIV erected in the basilica of the Santi Apostoli in 1787 was immediately acclaimed as a new example of classical perfection.
The Penitent Magdalene, that plays a sophisticated ambiguity between sacred and profane was also exhibited in Paris in 1808. Magadalene is shown here as it was in Giambattista Sommariva’s home during the neoclassical period, in a room lined with dark silk and a mirror behind the figure.


Left: Antonio Canova (1757-1822); Amorino alato, 1794-1797; Marmo, 142x54,5x48 cm; The State Hermitage (San Pietroburgo)*; Photograph © The State Hermitage; Museum, 2019; Foto di Alexander Koksharov; Right:Statue of Cupid (Centocelle type), II century D.C., marble

In his career Canova sculpted four statues of Cupid. The Winged Cupid(Amorino alato) shown was commissioned by Prince Nikolai Yusupov in 1794 and sent to Russia in 1801. It remains in Canova studio for years, allowing the sculptor to continue working on the marble, taking it to a supreme level of perfection. Here it can be admired in comparison with the antique Eros Farnese, one of the best known classical prototypes for the figure of Cupid, purchased in Rome by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in 1562.

Left: Formatore dell’ambito di Antonio Canova, Belvedere Apollo, 1806, plaster; Right: Antonio Canova, Perseus Triumphant, 1806, plaster

Canova was important for the ancient-modern parallels. The room of comparisons from Papafava Palace in Padua, has been recreated in this exhibition.


Left: Antonio Canova, Creugas, plaster and Damoxenos, plaster; Right: Anonio Canova (1757-1822) Studio per un monumento funebre ad un Papa; Penna e acquarello, 50,6x39,7 cm; Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Museo Correr. Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe.

Drawing was also a daily activity for Canova, a fundamental tool for artistic creation and an exercise in studying antiquity. Canova used to say that pencil and chisel were the tools that “guide one to immortality”. Drawings exhibited are illustrations of Academic life drawings, studies of drapery, drawings from his imagination and studies from antiquity.


Left: Antonio Canova, Bust of Religion, 1815, plaster; Right: Antonio Canova, Dancer with Her Hands on Her Hips, 1806-1812, marble

1814: After the return from the exile of Pope Pius VII (1742-1823), Canova wanted to pay tribute to him with the colossal statue of Religion, almost 8 meters high. It was destroyed half size a century ago but the bust still remains.

The last room in the exhibition presents one of Canova’s most extraordinary marble sculptures: the Dancer with Her Hands on Her Hips, on loan from St Petersburg. The sculpture is displayed on a revolving base, just as Canova desired, in a room lined with mirrors.

The exhibition is also enhanced by brand-new multimedia installations created specifically for the event.


Left: photographs of Canova works by © Mimmo Jodice; Right: From Antonio Canova, Cupid and Psyche. Art meets Technology

Visitors can admire the sculptor’s works as seen through the eyes of one of the great masters of photography thanks to around thirty images of Antonio Canova’s marble sculptures by Mimmo Jodice (b.1934).

Art Meets Technology in Cupid and Psyche by Magister with Robotor. Magister presents the most contemporary life-size reproduction of Antonio Canova’s sculpture Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss. Starting out with a 3D scan of the preparatory plaster model for the sculpture now on display at the Louvre in Paris, a robot sculptured a 10-tonne block of white Carrara marble non-stop for 270 hours.

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