name: Antonio Canova
birth place: Possagno, Republic of Venice
birth date: 1 November 1757
zodiac sign: Scopio
death place: Venice, Lombardy-Venetia
death date: 13 October 1822
Antonio Canova (1 November 1757 – 13 October 1822) was an Italian Neoclassical sculptor, famous for his marble sculptures. Often regarded as the greatest of the Neoclassical artists, his artwork was inspired by the Baroque and the classical revival, but avoided the melodramatics of the former, and the cold artificiality of the latter.
In 1757, Antonio Canova was born in the Venetian Republic city of Possagno to Pietro Canova, a stonecutter. In 1761, his father died. A year later, his mother remarried. As such, in 1762, he was put into the care of his paternal grandfather Pasino Canova, who was a stonemason, owner of a quarry, and was a "sculptor who specialised in altars with statues and low reliefs in late Baroque style". He led Antonio into the art of sculpting.
At the age of nine, he executed two small shrines of Carrara marble, which are still extant, and appears to have been constantly employed under his grandfather.
In 1770, he started his apprenticeship first with Giuseppe Bernardi, then with Giovanni Ferrari until he began his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. At the Academy, he won several prizes and was given his first workshop within a monastery by some local monks.
During this time, Antonio Canova started to receive from the Venetian elite and he opened his own studio at Calle Del Traghetto at S. Maurizio in 1779.
Canova arrived in Rome, on 28 December 1780, and spent his time studying and sketching the works of Michelangelo.
Between 1783 – 1785, Canova arranged, composed, and designed a funerary monument dedicated to Clement XIV for the Church of Santi Apostoli. It was finished in 1787 and secured Canova's reputation as the pre-eminent living artist.
Antonio Canova systematically promoted his reputation by publishing engravings of his works and having marble versions of plaster casts made in his workshop, and by1800, Antonio Canova was the most celebrated artist in Europe.
He became so successful that he had acquired patrons from across Europe including France, England, Russia, Poland, Austria and Holland, as well as several members from different royal lineages, and prominent individuals.
Among his patrons were Napoleon and his family, for whom Canova produced much work, including several depictions between 1803 and 1809. The most notable representations were that of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker, and Venus Victrix which was portrayal of Pauline Bonaparte.
In 1802, Canova was assigned the post of 'Inspector-General of Antiquities and Fine Art of the Papal State', a position formerly held by Raphael. One of his activities in this capacity was to pioneer the restoration of the Appian Way by restoring the tomb of Servilius Quartus. In 1808 Canova became an associated member of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands.
In 1815, he was named 'Minister Plenipotentiary of the Pope,'and was tasked with recovering various works of art that were taken to Paris by Napoleon.
In 1816, Canova returned to Rome with some of the art Napoleon had taken. He was rewarded with several marks of distinction: he was appointed President of the Accademia di San Luca, inscribed into the "Golden Book of Roman Nobles" by the Pope's own hands, and given the title of Marquis of Ischia, alongside an annual pension of 3000 crowns.
At the end of the decade, Canova decided to build a personified statue of Religion and a temple to house it. He designed, financed, and partly built the structure, a combination of the Parthenon and the Pantheon in Possagno, his birth place.
On 11 July 1819, Canova laid the foundation stone for Tempio Canoviano, dressed in red Papal uniform and decorated with all his medals, and he would continue to supersize the construction of Tempio Canoviano until the end of his life by regularly going back to Possagno.
The temple was first opened in 1830, and finally completed in 1836.
On 13 October 1822, Antonio Canova died in Venice at the age of 64. Before his death, he has instructed his brother to use his entire estate to complete the Tempio Canoviano in Possagno.
On 25 October 1822, his body was placed in the Tempio Canoviano. His heart was interred at the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, and his right hand preserved in a vase at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.
His memorial service was so grand that it rivalled the ceremony that the city of Florence held for Michelangelo in 1564.