Antonio Canova

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Antonio Canova (1757–1822) was an Italian Neoclassical sculptor, famous for his marble sculptures. Most often regarded as the greatest of the Neoclassical artists, his sculpture was inspired by the Baroque and the classical revival, and has been identified as having avoided the melodramatics of the former, and the cold artificiality of the latter.

Antonio Canova was born in the Venetian Republic city of Possagno to Pietro Canova, a stonecutter, and Maria Angela Zardo Fantolini in 1757. In 1761, his father died. A year later, his mother remarried. As such, in 1762, he was put into the care of his paternal grandfather Pasino Canova, who was a stonemason, owner of a quarry, and was a “sculptor who specialized in altars with statues and low reliefs in late Baroque style”. He led Antonio into the art of sculpting.

Before the age of ten, Canova began making models in clay, and carving marble. Indeed, at the age of nine, he executed two small shrines of Carrara marble, which are still extant. After these works, he appears to have been constantly employed under his grandfather.