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Antonio Canova - Venus through the looking glass
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Antonio Canova - Venus and Fauno
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Antonio Canova -  Venus and Adonis
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Antonio Canova - Le Grazie
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Antonio Canova - Self-portrait
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Antonio Canova - Amorino Lubomirski
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Antonio Canova - Creugante
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Antonio Canova - Teseo winner on the Centaur
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Antonio Canova - Amore e Psiche
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Antonio Canova - Teseo sul Minotauro
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Antonio Canova - Danzatrice con le mani sui fianchi
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Antonio Canova - Danzatrice col dito al mento
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Antonio Canova - The surprise
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Antonio Canova - The Graces and Venus dance infront of Mars
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Antonio Canova - Paolina Borghese Bonaparte as the winning Venus
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Thomas Lawrence - Ritratto di Antonio Canova
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Antonio Canova - Cefalo e Procri
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Antonio Canova - Venus and Mars
Antonio Canova - Venus through the looking glass
Antonio Canova - Venus and Fauno
Antonio Canova -  Venus and Adonis
Antonio Canova - Le Grazie
Antonio Canova - Self-portrait
Antonio Canova - Amorino Lubomirski
Antonio Canova - Creugante
Antonio Canova - Teseo winner on the Centaur
Antonio Canova - Amore e Psiche
Antonio Canova - Teseo sul Minotauro
Antonio Canova - Danzatrice con le mani sui fianchi
Antonio Canova - Danzatrice col dito al mento
Antonio Canova - The surprise
Antonio Canova - The Graces and Venus dance infront of Mars
Antonio Canova - Paolina Borghese Bonaparte as the winning Venus
Thomas Lawrence - Ritratto di Antonio Canova
Antonio Canova - Cefalo e Procri
Antonio Canova - Venus and Mars

Other works on display

Description

Carved from a single block of pure Carrara marble, the statue of Paolina Bonaparte as Venus winner emerges in the center of room 1 of the Borghese Gallery in Rome. Antonio Canova had already started working on the work in 1804, on commission from Prince Camillo Borghese. Initially her husband placed her at Palazzo Chablais in Turin and chose a private destination for her. It was the year of the coronation of her brother, Napoleon Bonaparte, as emperor. Just the sculpture of his sister would become one of the main symbols of the political rise of the Napoleonids in Europe. Some preparatory drawings testify that the artist had studied the subject and its possible compositions for a long time. Four of these are kept in the Bassano del Grappa Archive Library Museum. The woman, at her personal request, was represented in the pose and attitude usually dedicated to Venus, the Greek goddess of beauty. As the famous myth tells, through a sort of contest, Paris chose the most beautiful of the goddesses by rewarding her with a golden apple, the same that Pauline holds in her left hand. The body and its pose also reflect some ancient compositional models, especially from the Augustan period. In fact, the woman is languidly stretched out on an agrippina, or an elongated armchair with a single armrest, on which the right arm rests. The bust is erect and completely naked, while the lower part is half-covered by a light robe, which makes the woman modest and sensual at the same time and loads the statue with a strong eroticism. Curious, in fact, the atmosphere of scandal that at the time aroused the hypothetical naked pose in the artist's studio. The face is idealized, perfect in its concretization, and seems to be looking directly at the viewer who is admiring it. The divine features raise it beyond any earthly reality: it is returned to the human dimension only thanks to the presence of the bracelet on the right wrist, the ribbon on the hair and a special pink patina that Canova applied on the epidermal parts to imitate the color of the complexion and give it a slight semblance of life. The cushions and the sofa, richly detailed, are given together a realistic and inviting softness, while the entire structure has a mechanism that allowed it to rotate. The plaster model, due to the bombings of the war that affected most of the collection, was beheaded, deprived of the right hand that was resting on the cheek, the fingers of the left hand and part of the left foot. In the autumn of 2003, thanks to the application of new technologies, with a computerized scan from Rome marble it was possible to reconstruct the missing parts, then proceeding to reintegrate them.

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