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The Competition for the Residential Sculpture Prize at the Academy in Carrara

Ferdinando Fontana, Morte di Clito. Carrara, Accademia di Belle Arti
Ferdinando Fontana, Morte di Clito. Carrara, Accademia di Belle Arti

The Fine Arts Academy of Carrara was founded in 1769 by the Duchess of Massa and Princess of Carrara, Maria Tresa Cybo.
During the principality of Élisa Baciocchi, the Academy played a fundamental role in cultural and entrepreneurial policy: its expanded activity transformed the economy based on the extraction and sale of marble into one based on the sale of the artistic works that the market demanded.

Among Élisa’s merits was the institution in 1807 of the Competition for a Residential Sculpture Prize, the winner of which could spend three years in Rome, in the ateliers of famous artists, to perfect their skills in their chosen discipline.
For the sculpture student the contest entailed three trials: composition, modelling from life and the execution of a bas relief. After the first selection phase, four students were chosen for the next phase of the competition: Fontana, Tenetti, Tenerani and Raggi. On 31 July, the Jury Committee unanimously chose Fontana as the winner of the contest, and according to a regulation instituted in 1810, his bas relief remained at the Academy. This work was inspired by an episode from the life of Alexander the Great in which Alexander, after having stabbed Cleitus, tries to kill himself with the same spear, but is held back by his sergeants.
In the annual competition announced at the Academy on 18 May 1811, which took place from 1 to 31 July, the prize awarded on 15 August, Napoleon’s birthday, went to, Tenerani for sculpture with a Model of a nude, Bernardo Tacca for drawing, Giuseppe Spagnoli for architecture and Giuseppe Orsoline for decoration.
Tenerani’s model portrays a standing youth with his torso slightly inclined, right arm bent and raised up behind the head, a baton in his hand resting on the ground and a large cloth draped over his arm just below his right shoulder. Tenerani was awarded a prize of five zecchini for this work.

Ferdinando Fontana, The Death of Cleitus
Pietro Tenerani, Model from the nude
Fine Arts Academy
Via Roma, 1

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