The 18th and 19th Centuries


 



(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)

 




Neoclassicism and Romanticism

 

 



Antonio Canova

 

 
 

 

NAPOLEON, THE SUPREME NEOCLASSICAL HERO

General Napoleon Bonaparte was 28 when he first visited David's studio. David regarded him as a hero: when he was in danger because of his friendship with Robespierre, Napoleon offered him a secret hiding place in his encampment in Italy. Seeking to glorify the emperor's image. David painted him crossing the Alps on 20 May 1800. He is depicted against a mountainous background, advancing not on foot but. unrealistically, on horseback. As fiction and reality-merge, he assumes a dramatic, mythical dimension. Napoleon's exploits were documented on canvas by a variety of European artists. His career from general to emperor and king was depicted in larger-than-life historical imagery: he is seen beaten back from the Alps like Hannibal: victorious in Egypt like Caesar; and restored as emperor like Charlemagne. For about twenty years, Napoleon, who was neither handsome nor athletic, was wholly transformed by artists into the supreme Neoclassical hero. The entire Bonaparte family was made the subject of work by the great Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757—1822). Napoleon's sister was portrayed as a Roman goddess in Pauline Bonaparte Borgbese as Venus Victorious (1804-05), while his mother, Letizia Ramolino, was the model for a terracotta in the collection at Possagno, Canova's birthplace. The sculptor also created a heroic nude marble statue of Napoleon, endowing him with all the qualities of a Greek god -just as the Romans had portrayed Augustus as divine and the young Marcellus as a 'prince of youth". Titled Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker, the statue was later duplicated in bronze ( 1811 ).

 

 


Roman statue of
Marcus Claudius Marcellus
 Musee du Louvre, Paris.
The young nephew and son-in-law of Augustus, who died in 23bc, is portrayed in heroic nude pose as princeps uventutis, the heir apparent of his uncle.


Antonio Canova
Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker
1803-08
Apsley House, London
Canova's heroic nude, shown advancing victoriously bearing an orb, a sceptre, and the imperial mantle, was not to the emperor's taste.


Antonio Canova
Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker
1810
Louvre, Paris
 


 
 


Antonio Canova
Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victorious
1804-1805
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 

 


Antonio Canova
The Three Graces
1816
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 


Antonio Canova
Venus Italica
1804-12
Pitti Gallery, Florence

The theme of Venus, as a single figure or part of a group, standing erect or reclining, recurs in the work of Canova, who used it to express sensual beauty and divine dignity.

 

ANTONIO CANOVA

Having completed his early studies between Pagnano, near Asolo, and Venice, Antonio Canova (1757-1822) established his career in Rome in 1779. His commissions alternated between much-admired papal monuments (Clement XIV and Clement XIII) and secular subjects, but he declined invitations to attend the Russian Court, unlike his friend Giacomo Quarenghi, who had gone there in 1779. Canova went to Vienna in 1798 to fulfil a commission for a monument of Maria Christina of Austria for the Augustine Church. In the same year, France made Rome a republic and paid the artist a great tribute by electing him a member of the National Institute and appointing him Inspector General of Antiquities and Fine Arts for the State and Church.
He went to Paris in 1803 to paint Napoleon and plan a colossal statue of the emperor as "Mars the Peacemaker". In 1815, he was asked by the Papal State to recover works of art confiscated by the French. Before his return to Italy, he was invited to London to give his opinion on the authenticity of the Elgin marbles. At the age of 65, he returned to Venice, where he died.
 


Canova Antonio
b Possagno, nr Treviso, 1 Nov 1757; d Venice, 13 Oct 1822.
Italian sculptor, painter, draughtsman and architect. He was the most innovative and widely acclaimed sculptor of NEO-CLASSICISM.
His development during the 1780s of a new style of revolutionary severity and idealistic purity led many of his contemporaries to prefer his ideal sculptures to such previously universally admired Antique statues as the Medici Venus and the Farnese Hercules, thus greatly increasing the prestige of ‘modern’ sculpture. He was also much in demand as a portrait sculptor, often combining a classicizing format with a naturalistic presentation of features.
 



Antonio Canova
Cupid and Psyche
1796
Hermitage, St Petersburg

 

 


Antonio Canova
Danzatrice con dito al mento
1814

 


Antonio Canova
Dancer
1812
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 

 


Antonio Canova
The Repentant Mary Magdalene
1809
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 


Antonio Canova
Bust of a Vestal Virgin

 


Antonio Canova
The Genius of Death
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 


Antonio Canova
Nymph


 


Antonio Canova
Paris
Hermitage, St Petersburg



 


Antonio Canova
Helen


Antonio Canova
Hebe
1805
Hermitage, St Petersburg

 


Antonio Canova
Cupid and Psyche
1808
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 

 


Antonio Canova
Theseus and Centaur


 

 


Antonio Canova
Cupid
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 


Antonio Canova
Maddalena Penitente
1809
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 


Antonio Canova
Dedal and Icarus


 


Antonio Canova
Cain
1846

 


Antonio Canova
Orpheus
1770
Hermitage, St Petersburg


 


Antonio Canova
Apollo crowning himself


Antonio Canova
Perseus with the Head of Medusa
1806
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 

 

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