Antonio Canova (1757-1822)



Canova is considered to be the greatest sculptor of the Neoclassical period and Italy's last great universal artist

He was born in Possagno in the Veneto and died in Venice

Canova was born into the stone-working tradition, his father was a stone-cutter and his grandfather was a stone-mason, master builder and architect

Canova was a child prodigy, apprenticed at the age of nine to the Venetian sculptor, Bernardi and patronised by the Venetian noble, Falier. On the death of Bernadi in 1773, Canova was encouraged by Falier to open his own workshop at the age of sixteen and subsequently produced two large statues for Falier of Eurydice and Orpheus. Three years later these works were exhibited publicly in St Mark's Square and Canova's meteoric career was launched

In 1779 Canova moved to Rome in order to study the ancients with an intention to reinvent them as opposed to simply copy them. As a result he established himself there and never left

Canova moved easily between the religious and pagan milieu and became the most sought after sculptor in Europe, feted by emperors, nobility and the rich and famous

His working methodology was particular to him; he began with sketches and then produced life-size clay models (that required metal poles with wooden crosses attached to the ends for support) before producing plaster copies that had metal tracing points attached all over them to allow for the translation to the final marble version

Canova never married and was a great philanthropist. The plaster versions of his works were kept by Canova in his workshop and used as marketing material. On his death the contents of his workshop were moved to Possagno and are now housed in the 'Gypsoteca' at the Museo Canova


Selected Bibliography: Da Sesso, Antonio Canova, 1757-1822, 1992




Andrea Palladio (1508-1580)



Palladio is considered to be the most influential architect in the history of the Western world

During the eighteenth century Palladio's proportional classicism inspired a new architectural style that we now term Palladianism. This style emerged throughout Europe and the United States and its influence persists to the current day 

Palladio is still the only architect in history to have a style named in his honour

Palladio's extraordinary success is explained by the simple fact that he decided to set out his designs, architectural theories and all'antica ideas in an architectural treatise called 'I Quattro Libri dell Architeturra'.These four books were translated into English in the early eighteenth century and whether in their pure form or in a corrupted form they have become a mainstay of architects' libraries or builders' source materials ever since

Palladio was born in Padua and died in Maser in the Veneto region. He began life as an apprentice stone carver but was later insinuated into the Humanist circle of Trissino near Vicenza. It was there that he studied Vitruvius, Serlio, Cornaro and many others which combined with time spent studying in Rome led to the formation of Palladio's style. This was an interpretation of the Classical world and not a copy of it, he used the architectural vocabulary of antiquity to create his own designs such as the idea of placing a Greek temple front on the main face of a domestic dwelling in order to ennoble it

Palladio was undoubtedly a creative and inventive genius who provided a means through which power and success could be exhibited via the time-honoured medium of building that evinced the beauty and perfection of the cradle of Western civilisation in Ancient Greece


Selected Bibliography: James Ackerman, Palladio, 1966