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

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By Christopher M. S. Johns

The Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822) was once 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 conventional dating among buyers and artists replaced greatly. Christopher M. S. Johns's refreshingly unique examine explores a ignored aspect of Canova's profession: the results of consumers, patronage, and politics on his number of topics and demeanour of operating. whereas different artists produced artwork within the provider of the country, 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 someone and an artist of foreign popularity. although he had buyers as assorted because the pope, Napoleon, the Austrian Hapsburgs, the Prince Regent of serious Britain, and the Republic of Venice, Canova remained gradually hired and did so with out controversy. A conservative and a Catholic, he devised a method that enabled him to paintings for customers who have been avowed enemies whereas final actual to the cultural and creative historical past of his Italian native land. utilizing fantasy and funerary photographs and fending off portraiture, he disguised the meanings at the back of his works and hence kept away from their being pointed out with any political purpose.Johns vastly complements our realizing of Canova's position in ecu artwork and political heritage, and in displaying the effect of censorship, exhibit, visible narrative, and propaganda, he highlights matters as contentious this day as they have been in Canova's time.

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Extra info for Antonio Canova and the politics of patronage in revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe

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Because the subtleties of the past were suspect, many artists turned deliberately to politically engaged symbols and narratives easy to recognize and interpret. The advantages of this approach are obvious, since art in the service of the state is almost always handsomely recompensed. But what about engaged art in a protean, volatile political climate like that of the revolutionary and Napoleonic period? Here was the danger. The intense labor required for politicized art, especially monumental sculpture and architecture but also such paintings as Jacques-Louis David's Oath of the Tennis Court (figure 1), simply could not keep pace with rapid political change.

D. Rome, Musei Capitolini (photo: Courtesy of the Capitoline Museums, Rome) 115 50 Antonio Canova, Pauline Borghese as Venus Victrix, marble, 1804-8. Rome, Villa Borghese (photo: Alinari/Art Resource) 116 51 Antonio Canova, Paris, marble, 1807-12. Saint Petersburg, Hermitage (photo: Courtesy, of the Hermitage State Museums) 118 52 Antonio Canova, The Three Graces, 1810-14. Saint Petersburg, Hermitage (photo: Courtesy of the Hermitage State Museums) 119 53 Antonio Canova, Dancer, marble, 1806-12.

He hated wars and social revolution because they destroyed both existing art and the normal societal relationships that promote the training of young artists and the production of works of art. In this he was conservative. The current connotations of such political labels as liberal, moderate, conservative, progressive, reactionary, and so forth, often have only a tangential relation to the meanings of those words during the revolutionary and Napoleonic period. I have tried to understand these terms in their historical context.

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