The neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova made this funerary monument in marble between 1804 and 1807 in the Roman Church of the Holy Apostles.
This is yet another example of the enormous number of funerary-type commissions made by this prodigious Italian artist. For example, he made funerary monuments for Popes such as those of Clement XIII and Clement XIV, the latter curiously found in the same church as that ofGiovanni Volpattothat we present in these lines. He also carried out such commissions for the we althiest aristocracy such as the Funerary Monument of Duchess Christina in theAugustinian Church in Vienna, since Canova was an artist of enormous reputation throughout the European continent. In fact, one of his most important and well-known clients wasNapoleon Bonaparte, whom he portrayed on more than one occasion, and even made him full-length nude.
Tomb of Giovanni Volpatto of Canova
On the other hand, this sepulcher has a much less grandiloquent appearance than the works mentioned in the previous paragraph, since it is a more private tribute to Giovanni Volpatto, a character who acted as an important patron in the works of reform and repairs that were made in the church of the Holy Apostles in Rome, where they were finally going torest their remains.
For its design, Canova was inspired by the tombs of the Greek civilization, which in general and with the extraordinary exception ofHalicarnassus Mausoleum were works of a rather modest size.
This relief is an extraordinary example of neoclassical sculpture of the highest order. In reality, it is a stele with the aforementioned Greek inspiration, but it gives it a tone of architectural monumentality with the presence of a pediment and the acroteras, which serve as a shelter for the figure of the widow sitting in profile who cries inconsolably before the Volpatto's bust, which is also in profile and clearly recalls the effigies of the most classical coins.
Actually, any detail you look for in this work has its antecedents in ancient Greek and Latin cultures. It can be seen in any element: in the woman's dress, in the furniture, in the postures or in the architectural details that it includes.
And on the other hand, the message conveyed by this image also has a lot to do with the classic idea of death. Since all the emotional accent is falling on the woman, the survivor, who pays the best possible tribute to her deceased husband with the pain she is suffering.