Exhibition | Canova: Sketching in Clay

Posted in anniversaries, exhibitions by Editor on October 13, 2022

Antonio Canova, Adam and Eve Mourning the Dead Abel, detail of Eve and Abel, ca. 1818–22, terracotta
(Possagno: Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova; photograph by Tony Sigel)

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Antonio Canova, at age 64, died on this day (13 October) 200 years ago; his clay models are the subject of a major exhibition opening in June. From the NGA:

Canova: Sketching in Clay
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 11 June — 9 October 2023
Art Institute of Chicago, 19 November 2023 — 18 March 2024

Curated by C. D. Dickerson and Emerson Bowyer

How does a sculptor turn an initial idea into a finished work of marble? For Antonio Canova (1757–1822), the most famous artist of Europe’s revolutionary period, the answer was with clay. Working with his hands and small tools, Canova produced dazzling sketch models in clay, which helped him plan his designs for his large statues in marble. Imprinted with the fire of his imagination, these sketches were boldly executed in mere minutes. Canova also made more finished models, sensuous in their details, that he showed to patrons or used as guides for carving. Approximately 40 of the some 60 of his surviving models reveal the artist’s extraordinary working process—a process that led to the creation of some of the most iconic works in the history of sculpture.

Canova: Sketching in Clay is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington and The Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition is curated by C. D. Dickerson, curator and head of sculpture and decorative arts, National Gallery of Art, and Emerson Bowyer, Searle Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe, The Art Institute of Chicago.

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