Thursday, May 04, 2017

Save the Dates – NYC – Possagno - Canova’s George Washington exhibitions

  photograph by Fabio Zonta – courtesy Gypsotheca e Museo

Canova’s George Washington exhibitions
Save the Dates
The Frick Collection  - NYC
May 22-September 23 - 2018
Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova  - Possagno
November 10-2018 - April 22 – 2019

In 1816, the North Carolina State House in Raleigh commissioned a full-length statue of George Washington to stand in the hall of the State Senate. Thomas Jefferson, believing that no American sculptor was up to the task, recommended Antonio Canova (1757–1822), then one of Europe’s most celebrated artists. The first and only work Canova created for America, depicted the nation’s first president in ancient Roman garb, per Jefferson’s urging, drafting his farewell address to the states. It was unveiled to great acclaim in 1821. Tragically, only a decade later, a fire swept through the State House, reducing the statue to just a few charred fragments.  Canova’s George Washington examines the history of the artist’s lost masterpiece, probably the least well known of his public monuments. It brings together for the first time Canova’s full-sized preparatory plaster model, preparatory sketches for the sculpture, and related engravings and drawings, on loan from the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy, the birthplace of the artist.

The exhibition is organized by Xavier F. Salomon, The Frick Collection’s Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, in collaboration with Mario Guderzo, Director of the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Franca Coin President of the Venice International Foundation, and Friends of Venice Italy Inc.
Mario Guderzo, Franca Coin and Xavier F. Salomon

Palazzo Balbi - The Front Row
Alexis Light, Guido Venturini, Franca Coin, Gianni De Paoli, Mauro Migliorini and Giulia Rafaiani
“It is a huge honor for The Frick Collection to collaborate with the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno and with Venice International Foundation on the exhibition Canova’s George Washington. Canova’s sculpture would have been one of the most important artistic treasures of the United States, had it not been destroyed. This project aims to bring back to life one of the greatest masterpieces of European nineteenth-century art that reached America as the nation was beginning its history. The statue represents an early example of the relationship between Italy and the United States and we wish to celebrate this friendship.”
Xavier F. Salomon
exhibition curator and chief curator The Frick Collection

 “Thomas Jefferson refers to Canova as ‘the old Canova from Rome’, who was the only sculptor at that time capable of sculpting a powerful statue of George Washington. In this opportunity, the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova of Possagno underlines the great value of its belongings. This museum has the greatest collection in the world of Canova’s original plaster casts, the preliminary works made before carving the marble statues. The museum is a testimony of the immense cultural and artistic heritage of the Venetian Region, a Region that has given to the arts countless personalities of great value.”

Mario Guderzo
exhibition curator and director Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova

photograph by Fabio Zonta – courtesy Gypsotheca e Museo - Possagno

Antonio Canova - George Washington 
plaster cast - 1818
The marble sculpture arrived in Raleigh on December 24, 1821 where it was welcomed with a solemn ceremony at the State Capitol. It was placed on a square marble base decorated with low reliefs by Raimondo Trentanove. Washington is portrayed sitting on a roman chair dressed as a general with the chlamys and cuirass having just putting down his dagger and baton, as he writes his famous Farewell Address, where Washington declines a third term and goes back to private life:
George Washington / to the People of the United States – Friends and Fellow-Citizens.
On January 21, 1831, a fire broke out in the State Capital, destroying the building and the statue. Many years later, in 1970, a replica was created by Venetian sculptor Romano Vio based on Canova’s plaster cast preserved at Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova.  Critics have always been generous toward the statue underlining the descriptive values of the President representation, likely on the example of the Roman emperor Claudius. The request to portray Washington as a Roman came from Thomas Jefferson and was followed by Canova as an accurate interpreter of ancient History.

Xavier F. Salomon and Franca Coin

Emanuela Bassetti, Giovanni Alliata di Montereale and Guido Venturini

Andrea Bellieni

The Lion of Saint Marks
Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus

May Peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist

  Photograph - Courtesy Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno

Thomas Lawrence - Portrait Antonio Canova 
 oil on canvas - 1816-19

Lunch on the Grand Canal
Xavier Salomon, Caterina Tognon, Manuela Rafaiani, Alexis Light, Giulia Rafaiani and Franca Coin

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