Antonio Canova is possibly the sculptor of the period of Neoclassicism of the highest artistic quality in all of Europe. This Italian artist made numerous sculptures based on and inspired by classical art, sometimes adapting those models for portraits of his contemporaries such as the elegant marble of Paulina Borghese and other times making mythological themes of his own. classicism like his famous group of Eros and Psyche.
Canova's Italic Venus
In this case of the Venus Itálica also introduces us to a Roman goddess. It is a marble that is preserved in the prestigious Palatine Gallery in Florence and whose clearest reference is the Venus de Medici, although its theme and its forms can refer to the Greek art of Praxiteles's Aphrodite of Cnidus.
All of them show the Greco-Latin goddess of love making a gesture of surprise when she is caught coming out of the bath naked, although the least demure of them all is Aphrodite (the Greek Venus) ofPraxiteles.
In general, the works of the Italian Canova are based on the sculptures of late classicism, from which he is inspired to create tremendously elegant figures, with shapes that border on perfection, for which the extraordinary mastery of the artist with the chisels and other tools of his trade helps, since he was able to create works of aextreme delicacy.
We must take into account the artistic moment in which he developed Canova's work: theneoclassical period. At that time, all the great European artists, whether they were painters, sculptors, writers or architects, headed to Italy to see first-hand classical artand also the works of the Renaissance centuries. In addition, the first archaeological excavations took place in the two best-preserved cities of the Roman civilization: Herculaneum and Pompeii.
In these discoveries numerous frescoes came to light such as those of the Villa of the Mysteries, sculptures and countless objects from Roman times, which generated an enormous passion for Roman civilization and by extension also for art from Ancient Greece. A passion that not only reached the artists, but also the patrons, who wanted to own originals from those times and works by their contemporaries that evoke those ancient cultures.
That is why art took up, in opposition to what immediately preceded the period Baroque and Rococó, values such as harmony, ideals beauty and above all balance. In this context, an artist of the stature of Antonio Canova emerged, who knew how to transfer all these values to his art with mastery, and for this reason he was a highly valued sculptor who worked for the most relevant figures of his time, both for aristocrats and Popes of Rome and even the French Emperor Napoleon himselfBonaparte.