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Antonio Canova is one of the most famous Italian sculptors in history and worked within the Neoclassical style.
It appears that his travels abroad were highly beneficial in promoting his reputation across the continent as a whole and many have claimed that by around the year 1800, Canova was actually the most respected living artist in all of Europe. Once one considers the famous names that would have been around at that time, such as Caspar David Friedrich, JMW Turner and also the British artist and poet, William Blake, it really is an impressive tag to have been given and was entirely merited.
He is seen as a deep thinking, caring individual whose character came out in his famous sculptures, and one's upbringing as a child is always key in shaping one's personality and behaviour. Grandfather Pasino was a sculptor and stonemason who both encouraged his grandson to experiment with these different techniques but also could provide all necessary tools to an enthusiastic young boy. They were based in his home near Treviso, which is close to Venice and also boasts a significant network of canals itself.
Antonio Canova's Most Famous Sculptures
There are elements to this sculpture that some claim points to the movement towards Romanticism that was to impact large parts of the European art world over an extended period. The artist's ability to create form and give it a sensual look and touch through marble was very much a characteristic that helped Canova stand out from all others during this era.
It was such a popular creation that other donors came in and requested their own versions, meaning that there are now many different interpretations of the same theme from within his career, and it also retains the greatest focus because of the number of original pieces that still exist across the continent.
Antonio Canova produced a life-size status of George Washington in marble and it was to be his only piece produced for display in the United States. It was the State of North Carolina who commissioned the piece in 1815 and it was eventually finished around five years later. It underlined how this nation was still connected to the roots of its past, both for better and for worst.
The most respected work from this would have been his Bust (Colossal Head) of Napoleon Bonaparte which was well received and helped to keep this politically-neutral artist in favour and also ensured that his financial future was ensured. There has been a history of artists who have fallen out of favour because of their inability to avoid controversial statements, but also many like Canova who were able to roll with the times in order to keep their career going.
Related Famous Sculptors
The Renaissance Man was incredibly ambitious and open minded, finding the time and motivation to attack all manner of subjects for creativity, including literature and architecture, besides the stunning series of frescoes which decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Just that on its own is amongst the highlights in European art history, before we even discuss the other elements of his career. A true master in every way, and perhaps most skilled of all as a sculptor.
He was fortunate enough to come under the teaching of Lorenzo Ghiberti, another key figure from a generation earlier who was able to instill in his young students some exceptional technical knowledge as well as a broad understanding of the artistic world more generally. Donatello would rise to become blessed with some highly significant donors, including Cosimo de' Medici, and this ensured that his career would remain well financed throughout.
His tutoring also went as far as literature, with the artist writing several different publications during his own lifetime which aimed at passing on what he had learnt across his own career. Much of his work was based on religious themes, including a whole series of works that captured different events in the life of Jesus Christ.
The Baroque movement brought in new ideas across the art world which pushed things on after the achievements of the Renaissance era. Bernini played a significant role within the realm of sculpture, whilst other famous names developed painting styles in a similar direction. Whilst he was in Rome, others contributed from other parts of the Papal States, including Venice and Florence.
These three Spaniards were different in there approaches but all ambitious and expressive, choosing to take their paintings into a third dimension through sculpture. None of them stopped there, either, with ceramics, drawings and more being found in their respective oeuvres by the end of their careers. Perhaps it was Picasso who was the most productive, with works numbering in the many thousands, but they all left a huge impact of European modern art.