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Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova (1757—1822), Italian sculptor, was born on the 1st of November 1757, at Passagno, a vague village situated amid the recesses of the hills of Asolo, where these form the last furrow of the Venetian Alps, as they subside into the plains of Treviso. At three years of age, Canova was deprived of parents, his father died, and his mother remarrying. Their loss, however, was rewarded by the tender solicitude and care of his paternal grandfather and grandmother, the latter of whom lived to experience in her turn the kindest personal attention from her grandson, who, when he had His father and grandfather followed the occupation of stone-cutters or minor statuaries; and it is said that their family had for numerous period supplied Passagno with members of that calling. As soon as Canova’s hand could hold a pencil, his grandfather Pasino initiated him into the principles of drawing. (1911 Encyclopedia)

Antonio Canova (1757-1822) was considered the best sculptor of his time in Europe. His work and personality became a model for all sculptors for many years. In 1802, Canova was invited to Paris by Napoleon, in order to carve marble portraits of the emperor and his mother and sister. Canova demonstrated the Romantic Classicism that was so valued at the time: he creates daring images of seductive elegance and form. Both the supple figures and tactful features of his work recall the earlier Rococo, with its charm and realism, but he is resolutely Neoclassic in his approach. ‘Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss’ was commissioned in 1787 and acquired by Joachim Murat in 1800, and entered the Louvre in 1824. Canova was a prolific sculptor, and he seduced the whole of Europe with his mythological compositions in which the clarity of contours was used to portray a discrete eroticism. In the area of portraiture, he was the absolute champion of idealization. He displayed responsiveness both to naturalism and to the early Renaissance, opening the way to two dominant trends at the commencement of the century: skilled realism and historical subject matter. Canova’s sculptures have been distributed under three heads:

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