The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is exhibiting The Seven Last Works of Venetian artist Antonio Canova (1757-1822).
Antonio Canova, perhaps the greatest of all Neoclassical sculptors, remains famous above all for the elegant nude mythological subjects that he carved exquisitely in marble. He also worked with spiritual subject matter. With these less familiar works, a different side of Canova is revealed in an extraordinary series of full-scale plaster casts of his clay compositions, illustrating episodes from the Old and New Testaments. Such models, used as compositional studies before they were transferred into stone, were a distinctive feature of his sculptural practice. The Biblical scenes on exhibit at the MET were made in connection with a project for thirty-two low reliefs that were to adorn the Tempio Canoviano, the church he built for his home town Possagno, which later became the artist’s mausoleum. He completed only seven models before his death.
Six of the reliefs come from the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, and one from the Gipsoteca in Possagno. Clearly inspired from ancient sculpture and early Renaissance masters, the reliefs are uniquely noted for the delicate linearity of the figures within ideal compositions. These are Canova’s last and most “profoundly moving masterpieces,” according to the MET. Recently restored, they are being shown for the first time in the U.S.
SACI students in Art History are able to visit some of Canova’s more well-known pieces during scholastic field trips to Rome, for example the lounging statue of Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, now at the Galleria Borghese as well as his Perseus with the Head of Medusa at the Vatican Museum.
See the Met’s website for hours and ticket information.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY