Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova

Italian sculptor
Date of Birth: 01.11.1757
Country: Italy

Biography of Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova, an Italian sculptor, was born on November 1, 1757 in Possagno near Treviso. He studied under the sculptor Giuseppe Torretti in Venice. One of his most successful works from his early career is the marble sculpture group of Daedalus and Icarus. Canova was a representative of classicism, and his statues have a polished, impeccably clean white surface, which gives them a certain abstraction and coldness, despite the finely observed details and accurate representation of anatomical structure and drapery. This sense of detachment is present even in his most sensual works, such as Cupid and Psyche (1783-1793, Louvre). Canova created compositions based on mythological subjects, as well as portraits and funerary monuments.

Among his works are the statue of Perseus (1801, Vatican, Pio-Clementine Museum), several portraits of Napoleon, a portrait of George Washington in Roman armor, Paolina Borghese as Venus (1805-1807, Rome, Borghese Gallery), and the funerary monuments of Popes Clement XIII (1783-1792, Rome, St. Peter's Basilica) and Clement XIV (1783-1787, Rome, Church of Santi Apostoli).

Canova began his career by studying rococo style, and one of his most successful works from this early period is the marble sculpture group of Daedalus and Icarus. He then went on to study classical art in Rome and Naples, and in 1781, he settled permanently in Rome. Here, he joined a group of artists and scholars of ancient culture, whose works and research contributed to the emergence of a new artistic direction focused on imitating classical art. Canova's first work in this style, later known as classicism, was Theseus and the Minotaur (1781-1783, London, Victoria and Albert Museum). It was followed by the funerary monument of Pope Clement XIV, which brought the artist fame and contributed to the establishment of classicism in sculpture. Canova's clients included popes, kings, and wealthy collectors. From 1810, he held the position of director of the Academy of St. Luke in Rome. In the last years of his life, the master built his own museum in Possagno, where plaster models of his sculptures were kept. Canova died in Venice on October 13, 1822.