Complex, variegated and international, the project is the VIF’s largest grant to date. Started in 2012 with the intention of organically arranging the works of Canova in the Museo Correr, it has expanded over time to involve other museums and cross the borders of Venice and Italy, reaching as far as the United States. And the project is still continuing today…
In 2015, the Museo Correr inaugurated five rooms entirely dedicated to Antonio Canova’s major and most significant early works, indicative of the artist’s precocious genius and extraordinary for their quality and interest. The group consists of large and stunning marbles such as Daedalus and Icarus, Venus Italica, Orpheus and Eurydice, Paris, bas-reliefs, important models and scenographic plaster casts of well-known sculptures. The VIF financed the fitting out of the rooms and restored the works. The project also made possible the restoration of the wooden choir, now on display in room 14, and the implementation of an innovative lighting system in ten rooms including the entire gallery of the Napoleonic wing facing St. Mark’s Square.
At the Gallerie dell’Accademia, the seven rooms on the ground floor of the Palladian Wing were reopened in 2016 in collaboration with The Venice in Peril Fund; three of these were dedicated entirely to the works of Canova, and presented mainly original models and plaster casts. Among the many works on display, some restored for the occasion, the three-dimensional plaster casts of the two lions from the tomb of Pope Clement XIII in St. Peter’s stand out. Equally impressive are the courtly portrait of Madama Letizia, mother of Napoleon, and the expressive force of Creugante. As an appendix to the Canova rooms, there is the space dedicated to Francesco Hayez, Canova’s favourite artist.
The displays in these rooms are part of the broader ‘Verso le Grandi Gallerie’ project.
Antonio Canova’s house in Possagno is home to the Museo Gypsotheca, which is named after him. A close collaboration between the VIF and the birthplace of the great artist could not be left out, therefore. Between 2015 and 2019, in addition to the restoration of some tempera works, two important exhibitions benefited from the VIF’s contribution: ‘Venere nelle terre del Canova’ (Venus in the lands of Canova), which was held in the places to which the great master was particularly and closely attached: Possagno, Asolo and Crespano del Grappa, and ‘Canova’s George Washington’ hosted at the Frick Collection in New York, where the plaster cast of the first President of the United States was exhibited (the marble work created in 1818 for the North Carolina Parliament was destroyed by fire in 1831).
Also connected to the Canova Project is the contribution to the ‘Canova, Hayez, Cicognara. L’ultima gloria di Venezia’ (Canova, Hayez, Cicognara. Venice’s last glory) exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia (September 2017-July 2018), the publication in 2017 of Il guardaroba del conte e altre storie by Giandomenico Romanelli, published by Lineadacqua, a volume based on Leopoldo Cicognara’s manuscript 1808-1809. Cassa. Secondo libro della mia Amministrazione acquired by the Venice Foundation in 2002 and donated to the Correr Museum Library; the ‘Canova e Venezia 1822-2022. Fotografie di Fabio Zonta’ (Canova e Venezia 1822-2022. Photographs by Fabio Zonta) in the Ballroom of the Museo Correr from October 2022 to February 2023.