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HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL
Sculpture had, from a long time, been so much neglected in Italy, that it seemed, in a manner, to no longer have any of that grandeur, of which however so many examples were seen in the numerous Grecian works that adorn the Italian Museums. Canova, the son of a stone cutter, came into the world with such a decided feeling for sculpture, that he was soon remarked, and that the individual with whom he worked as a mere journeyman, guessed his talent and procured him the means of unfolding it.
Antonio Canova was born at Possagno, near Treviso, November 1, 1757. He was yet a child, when he one day, drew the attention of a Patrician of Venice, named Falieri, by placing on his table a lion modelled in butter. This nobleman put Canova in the hands of a sculptor named Torretti where he soon made great progress. His first attempts are still preserved at Venice they are two baskets of fruit executed in marble. After Torretti's death, Canova continued his studies some time under the direction of Ferrari, his former master's nephew; but he left him to study in the Academy of Fine Arts at Venice, where he soon won several prizes. He was twenty two years old when he did his group of Dædalus and Icarus: this work gave so much satisfaction, that the Senate of Venice sent him to Rome; with a pension of 300 ducats.
HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL NOTICE
It was in 1779 that Canova arrived in the city of the Fine Arts but at that period Sculpture had astonishingly lost the characteristic of the Antique. A few of the learned were then struggling in favour of a change, become absolutely necessary, and the counsels and works of these skilful men, had the happiest influence upon the works of Canova. It was by studying the Theory of Art as conceived by Raphael Mengs, Sir W. Hamilton, and particularly, by the celebrated Winkelman: it was by putting into practice their lessons, that Canova found the means of opening to himself a road, then new, and which, during a long life, led him on from success to success. In the present day, it is sufficient, as an eulogium, to quote such works as the Monuments of Alfieri, and of Nelson; the groups of Cupid and Psyche, of Venus and Adonis, the three Female Dancers, the Graces, Paris, Mars and Venus, and particularly the Repentant Magdalen, one of the richest ornaments of the Sommariva Collection, and perhaps its author's masterpiece.
These important works had rendered Canova's name famous throughout Europe. During the troubles of Italy, in 1798 and 1799, he accompanied Prince Rezzonico, to Austria and Prussia; and on his return to Rome, Pope Pius VII named him Inspector General of the Fine Arts in all the Roman States, with a pension of 400 scudi. Invited to Paris by the First Consul, Bonaparte, Canova quitted Rome and Italy, with the Sovereign Pontiff's permission: he was greeted in France with all the marks of esteem and admiration due to so great a talent. The class of Fine Arts of the Institute associated him as a Foreign Member. It was during his residence in Paris that he executed the statue of the First Consul, which has also been called Mars Pacificator. It will be remembered that this statue was not exhibited, as it did not please Napoleon, who, on seing it, said: Canova croit donc que je me bats à coups de poings? Canova believes then that I fight with my fists? It now belongs to the Duke of Wellington.
OF ANTONIO CANOVA.
In 1810, the Academy of St. Luke at Rome, gave Canoya the title of Prince of the Academy, a distinction, which, for many years, had not been awarded to any artist. In his second journey to Paris, Canova received a very different reception to that he had met with, the first time he visited the Capital. It is true that he now came to preside at the carrying off the objects of Art which the fortune of arms had put in our power. The zeal he then displayed, to have returned to his country the masterpieces, which, for a long while, had been its ornaments, cannot be blamed; but, it will, perhaps, be allowed to recal that the haughtiness with which the artist fulfilled his diplomatic duties, drew upon him several annoyances, of which he thought proper to complain. The French Minister, to whom he addressed loud remonstrances, not appearing to adopt his reasons, the Italian adduced that in the present instance he was the Pope's Ambassador ; you mean his Packer, replied his Excellency. But, on Canova's return to Rome, he was amply indemnified for the vexations he had experienced in Paris, by the honours of every kind, with which he was overwhelmed.The Academy of St. Luke went in a body to meet him. Pius VII received him in solemn audience, and delivered to him the diploma testifying his being inscribed in the Golden Book of the Capitol. He named him Marquis of Ischia, with an endowment of 3,000 Roman Scudi. Canova determined to consecrate the whole of this sum to the encouragement of the Arts. This great Statuary constantly made the noblest use of his splendid fortune. He founded five Annual Prizes in favour of the Italian Pupils of the Academy at Rome; and, during his whole life, he never desisted from assisting young artists both with his advice and his purse. One of the last occupations of his life was the building of a Church at Possagno, on the model of the Parthenon. This monument was not finished when he died; but, by his will, considerable sums are bequeathed for its completion.
HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL notice of, etc.
The works executed by Canova, in the course of about thirty years, are immense. He has left 53 statues, 12 groups, 14 cenotaphs, 8 large monuments, 7 colossean figures, 2 groups of colossean size, 54 busts, 26 bassi-relievi; besides a number of unfinished works. It is certain however that Canova never let himself be assisted in those labours; and yet sculpture did not wholly absorb all his time: he painted also. There are 22 of his pictures known; the greater part of large size.
Canova died at Venice, October 13, 1822, aged 66 years. His heart was put in the Church of San Marco at Venice; his right hand was given to the Academy of Fine Arts of the same town, ond his body was transferred to Possagno, his native country. His obsequies were performed throughout Italy with the greatest pomp.
The Collection of Canova Works has been repeatedly engraved in France, in England, and in Italy. The Abbate Missirini, formerly Secretary to Canova, has published Memoirs of his Life under the title, Della Vita di Antonio Canova libri quattro, compilati da Melchior Missirini, prato 1824. The Angouleme Museum contains several statues by Canova, amongst others, two different groups, both representing Cupid and Psyche.
PEINTURES ET SCULPTURES
CONTENUES DANS LES LIVRAISONS 61 A 72 BIS.
362 Saint Jean-Baptiste.
365 Sacre de Charles X.
367 Sainte Famille.
368 Susanne au bain.
369 Une malade et son médecin. 370 Mort d'Adonis.
371 L'Amour et Psyché. 372 Diane.
W373 Portement de croix. 374 Pandore.
379 La Vierge au pilier.
380 Saint Jean-Baptiste.
63375 La Vierge aux cerises.
376 La Cène.
377 Duc d'Orléans passant une revue. H. VERNET. 378 Diane.
385 Adam et Eve.
386 Jésus-Christ et les Pharisiens.
381 Moise enfant.
382 Lapidation de saint Étienne. LE SUEUR.
384 Pallas de Velletri.
388 Darius au tombeau de Nitocris. 389 David tenant la tête de Goliath. 390 J.-C. apparaît à saint Thomas.
39r Salomé, fille d'Hérodiade.
393 Jugement de Midas.
J. FR. BARBIERI.
LÉON. DE VINCI.
Église de Rome.