Who Was Antonio Canova?

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Who was Antonio Canova? Most people if you say “Canova” will immediately think of the popular and famous bar in Rome’s center but who was the man behind the name?

Antonio Canova was a sculpture between the eighteenth and nineteenth century; he was born in a small town called Possagano on November 1st, 1757 and died in Venice on October 13th, 1822. His place of birth is a small town that today probably reached a population of about two thousand habitants, and it is located right at the foothills of the Alps near Venice according to the Italian Wikipedia (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Possagno).

The artist grew up with his paternal grandfather, after the death of his father when he was only four and the re-marriage of his mother, and started to work with him in his local sculptor business.  Then in 1775 at the age of eighteen, he left and moved to Venice and opened his own shop, according to the Italian Wikipedia (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Canova), and started to create a name for himself until in 1779 he moved to Rome where he immediately had a good following and in fact Antonio Canova was already considered one of the most talented sculptors during his time.

He was one of the most influential artists of the neoclassical style; he preferred the classical style of old Rome and Greece, and his services were often requested by Popes and high royalty such as Napoleon of whom he sculpted his sister, Paolina, and you can see this in the Borghese museum in Rome, but he also sculpted Napoleon himself and you can find the marbel statue of his upper body at the castle of Fontainebleau in France.

Some of his most famous works, according to the Italian Wikipedia (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Canova) are “Le Tre Grazie” (The Three Graces) and the George Washington statue. The first “Le Tre Grazie” (The Three Graces) is a marble statue, done between 1813-1816, of the mythological three charities that were the Greek god Zeus’ daughters, Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia which are supposed to represent beauty, charm and joy in that order, and they were said to preside over banquets to entertain guests.

The other one, the statue of George Washington is depicting the general and president, dressed very modestly as a Roman emperor, and this was commissioned by the statehouse of Raleigh in North Carolina and now you can still see the plaster in the museum.


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