Antonio Canova, the greatest of Neoclassical artists, the sculptor behind such masterpieces as Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, The Three Graces, and Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, is the subject of an exhibition in Rome that explores the connection between the artist himself and the city of Rome, an endless source of inspiration for him.
Located at Palazzo Braschi, the exhibition features more than 170 works by Canova and a number of his contemporaries and is divided into 13 sections that “illustrate Canova’s art and the context he encountered upon arriving in Rome in 1779.” Even the lighting has been set up so as to recall the ambiance, warmed by torch light, in which Canova welcomed guests in his Rome studio on Via delle Colonnette at night.
The relationship between the sculptor and the city is revealed through the words of Canova himself, which he jotted down in his travel journals, such as when he first saw Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne at Villa Borghese; these are part of the exhibition, as are his drawings, sketches, models and plaster casts, including large pieces, for some of his most important works, such as the great Funerary Monuments to Clement XIV and Clement XIII.
“You have to channel the Ancient into your blood, until it becomes as natural as life itself,” said Canova. He wanted to “bring the Ancient back to life within the Modern and to shape the Modern through the filter of the Ancient,” the exhibition’s presentation reports.
Loans for the exhibited works come from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, the Musei Vaticani, the Musei Capitolini, the Museo Correr in Venice, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, among many others.
Canova was born in Possagno in 1757, in what was then the Republic of Venice. He arrived in Rome in 1780, and remained there for two decades. It was during that time that he developed his unique style which made him famous and requested all over Europe.
Canova. Eterna Bellezza is open until March 15, 2020. For more information, http://www.museodiroma.it/en/mostra-evento/canova-eternal-beauty.