ANTONIO CANOVA BIOGRAPHY
Antonio Canova, considered the greatest exponent of Neoclassicism, was born in Possagno in 1757. From a young age he cultivated the passion for sculpture, in particular the Greek one, which he considered mother of sculptural art par excellence.
He begins his apprenticeship in Venice where he creates his first works, representing characters of Greek mythology that reveal the influence of Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In 1779 he went to Rome to attend the Nude Schools of the Academy of France and the Capitoline Museum.
In the capital, he also assimilates the sculptural techniques taught by Winckelmann. He considers Greek sculpture to be the only way of achieving beauty because it possesses the noble simplicity and greatness that contemporary sculptors must look for. Canova creates his white marble sculptures with a harmonious and polished style.
The artist at first drafts an initial idea on a sheet of paper and then produces various terracotta and wax patterns. Finally, he produces the final sculpture which he rubs with pumice stone and coloured waxes or dyes that give those colour traces that recall the flesh of natural skin and an antique effect.
The sculptures of Canova appear as uncontaminated and pure works according to the principles of classicism of neoclassical art: objects of heavenly beauty, pure and eternal. Canova, in his sculptures, decides to freeze and represent the “significant moment”: the moment of absolute quiet in which time freezes forever, this is the moment when history becomes a myth.
During his life, Canova gained an important reputation especially under Napoleon whose family dedicated his artistic production in the early nineteenth century. With the end of the Napoleonic period, Canova returns to Rome: the works of this period underline a technical change, the artist loads more passion into his works that are therefore beginning to approach the new tendencies of Romanticism.
At the peak of his international career he goes to London where he has the opportunity to see the original Marbles of the Parthenon, his models of reference. In 1822 the great Venetian sculptor is compared to the classical artist Fidia, a sculptor of great importance in the Classic era.
Antonio Canova died in 1822.