Antonio Canova and the politics of patronage in by Christopher M. S. Johns

By Christopher M. S. Johns

The Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822) used to be Europe's so much celebrated artist from the top of the ancien r?gime to the early years of the recovery, an period while the normal courting among consumers and artists replaced significantly. Christopher M. S. Johns's refreshingly unique learn explores a missed part of Canova's occupation: the results of buyers, patronage, and politics on his number of matters and demeanour of operating. whereas different artists produced paintings within the carrier of the kingdom, Canova resisted the blandishments of the political powers that commissioned his works.Johns makes use of letters, diaries, and biographies to set up a political character for Canova as somebody and an artist of foreign acceptance. notwithstanding he had buyers as different because the pope, Napoleon, the Austrian Hapsburgs, the Prince Regent of significant Britain, and the Republic of Venice, Canova remained gradually hired and did so with no controversy. A conservative and a Catholic, he devised a technique that enabled him to paintings for customers who have been avowed enemies whereas closing actual to the cultural and inventive history of his Italian place of origin. utilizing fantasy and funerary pictures and heading off portraiture, he disguised the meanings at the back of his works and therefore kept away from their being pointed out with any political purpose.Johns significantly complements our realizing of Canova's position in ecu artwork and political background, and in exhibiting the effect of censorship, exhibit, visible narrative, and propaganda, he highlights concerns as contentious this present day as they have been in Canova's time.

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This bit of bombast simply repeated an idea promoted assiduously by revolutionary and later Bonapartist France, that trophies of conquest rather than territorial expansion alone constitute the glory of war's guerdon. The politicization of the rhetoric surrounding art restoration was motivated largely by the propagandistic need to justify culturally despoiling defeated enemies, a practice decried in Europe for generations. The French government circulated the slander that the works of art were in a "ruinous" condition, "neglected," even contaminated by "monkish smoke" in their countries of origin, and only the free air (and conservation laboratories) of France could ensure their survival.

1815-16. ), Design for a Cenotaph of Antonio Canova, pencil on paper, ca. 1823. Copenhagen, Thorvaldsens Museum (photo: Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen) 198 85 Giuseppe de Fabris, Cenotaph of Antonio Canova, marble, ca. 1826-32. Rome, Protomoteca Capitolina (photo: Courtesy of the Capitoline Museums, Rome) 199 Page 1 Introduction The traditional relationship between artists and patrons changed profoundly with the Revolution, the collapse of the ancien régime, continental wars, and the emergence of a class of rulers relatively unfamiliar with the iconographies, visual metaphors, allegories, and general subtleties of the fine arts.

That it was given over to the Louvre restorers is clear, but my argument here is that the French had too much at stake not to control vigorously the information offered in a seemingly scientific and objective format: the report is a deeply dubious document. French claims about the neglect and abuse of works of art by their former proprietors should be seen as part of the cultural propaganda surrounding the entire issue of spoliation. Conversely, when the works of art in the Louvre were restored to their former proprietors in 1815, these individuals lamented their ruined surfaces, the removal of original paint, and Page 6 other restoration "atrocities" committed against them in Paris.

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