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Canova’s casts at the Fine Arts Academy in Carrara

Carrara, Accademia di Belle Arti
Carrara, Accademia di Belle Arti

The most illustrious sculptors of the Napoleonic age went to Carrara to personally choose the most precious marbles for their works. Once in the city, these artists came into contact with the Fine Arts Academy. Many of them, including Canova, made and donated plaster casts and models to the school, which would then come to constitute the plaster cast collection.

The courtyard of the Academy therefore hosts around ten plaster models by Canova, including the boxers Creugas and Damoxenos, the Penitent Magdalene, the Dancer with a finger to her chin, a Self–portrait, the Venus and Adonis group and the funerary monument dedicated to Vittorio Alfieri. These plaster casts testify to the method used by the sculptor in creating his works, which comprised four phases: the design, the wax or clay model, the plaster model and finally the marble sculpture.

Two of the plaster casts are large in scale: the portrait of Napoleon as Mars the Pacifier and that of his mother, Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte. The two models were given to the Academy by Canova in exchange for two blocks of marble that had been lying on the beach of Avenza for years, to be used for the sculpture group Theseus and the Centaur.

Academy of Fine Arts
Via Roma, 1

Free admission

tel. +39 0585 71658