Antonio Canova (1757-1822) was an Italian Academic sculptor. He was born in the foothills of the Venetian Alps, but soon moved to Rome after the death of his father. There, his grandfather taught him stone cutting, which was the family profession. Canova showed prodigious talent for carving devotional statuary and acquired a wealthy patron in Venice. This enabled him to seek further formal training. Archaeological studies captivated him, launching his Neoclassical focus that would dominate his life's work. Canova became the most sought-after sculptor of his age and attracted offers from across the Continent.
Theseus and the Centaur (marble, Kunsthistor- isches Museum in Vienna). A product of the Enlightenment, Canova rendered perfect versions of an idealized human form. He could capture a single moment in time and make it look like a moving scene. Look at the centaur's body -- you can almost see his legs collapse under him.
Cupid and Psyche (marble, the Hermitage at St. Petersburg). Jealous of the beauty of mortal girl Psyche, Venus ordered her son Cupid to cause her to fall in love with the most vile creature on earth. Cupid tried to do as his mother wished, but fell in love with Psyche upon seeing her for the first time. Distracted by her beauty, he accidentally pierced himself with his own arrows. Canova captured this romantic icon magnificently.
Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte (marble, private collection). Canova was in high demand for portraits and sarcophogal sculptures, such as this one of Napoleon Bonapatre's mother. Bonapatre was an admirer of Canova and patronized his services heavily.