two bas-reliefs arrived from Trieste

From May 14th at the new Bailo Museum you can admire the large and awaited exhibition “Canova’s Glory of Treviso”, which brings together more than 200 Canova testimonies, most of which have never been publicly displayed. Among the novelties are the two spectacular original plaster casts by the sculptor, heir to the Assicurazioni Generali, which have arrived in Treviso in the last few hours after a restoration campaign. These are two large works (141 x 280 cm) depicting two very different subjects, one – created by the artist between 1787 and 1790 depicting “The Death of Priam”; the second, dated the two years immediately following, depicts “The Dance of the Sons of Alcinoo”; both originally from the Albrizzi collection.

“The tragic sublime is the protagonist of the first composition, in which pain and fear dominate, and with bold and new touches of truth, especially in the choice to portray Pirro completely naked,” explains Fabrizio Malachin, director of the Treviso Civic Museums and curator the exhibition. “Adding to the boldness of this act, which presents itself to the viewer with such evidence, are very intense passages the daughters of Priam: on the left, with arms outstretched, they beg for mercy, like Magdalene at the foot of the cross in a ‘Work of the’ Primitives’; on the right they flee in terror, one holding her child as at the massacres of the innocent; and again, on the far left, Priam’s wife faints and is scarcely supported, in memory of a Virgin at the foot of the Cross “

This bas-relief is accompanied by the “Dance of the Sons of Alcinoo” (this time it’s about joy, grace, lively merriment). Both episodes, inspired by the events of the Trojan War and the Odysseus epic, are based on the Odyssey and the second book of the Aeneid “The series of plaster bas-reliefs are inscribed in what can be defined, being a term in vogue is used Contemporary Art, a series production; and even in it, Canova reveals characters that mark him as the first modern artist. These works are the demonstration of the competition that the sculptor undertook to confirm the primacy of his art over painting: that is, works with a narrative character. The challenge is even more demanding where the sculpture is asked to free itself from the burden. The dance is the riskiest imaginable because of the ease of the movements. The path begun with “The Dance of the Sons of Alcinoo” will lead him to the dancers, with his hands on his hips, his finger on his chin and his pelvis, to testify that nothing is impossible for sculpture when the creator Canova is. In the words of Luigi Coletti: “Was it real glory?” And the answer: “Canova is always right”.

“The exhibition dedicated to Canova will be the flagship of the Nuovo Grande Bailo and we are delighted that thanks to the precious partnership with Generali it will be possible to present the most beautiful works of the sculptor”, said Mayor Mario Conte. “We are proud that national team players like Generali have chosen to wear the City jersey to promote culture, art and their excellence and to share part of their heritage to make it accessible to visitors.” We are particularly impressed that an institution like Generali, with its Spazio Generali Valore Cultura project, believed in our four-year program so much that synergies were created. Valore Cultura will not only give its name to the part of the museum that will house the main exhibitions, but they have decided to create a real synergy with the important loans for a collaboration that we hope will grow in the years to come will.


The relationship between Canova and Treviso is as deep as it is unprecedented. “Born in Treviso”, in Possagno, in Treviso was born his “myth” and the critical rediscovery of his work. Starting from the legend of the child prodigy who, in the house of Falier in Asolo, on the spot invented a sculpture in the shape of a lion from a stick of butter, to fill a lack during a banquet circulated in Treviso in 1803.

Treviso was the first in the celebrations after his death: in 1823 he commissioned Luigi Zandomeneghi to make a bust and a musical composition for the best musician, Gioachino Rossini, in honor of his memory (this music will accompany the visitor in the exhibition). And again, when Canova was still despised by some critics in the post-war period, Luigi Coletti reacted with the first major monographic exhibition. To understand its importance, just think that it was 1957, his bicentenary, and that that of Treviso was the only exhibition in Italy that critically examined the sculptor’s entire work, dividing between a “stylistic” and a “poetic” one If he listened closely, Production could hear the romantic announcement. These are words of Luigi Coletti taken from the unpublished speech given during the inauguration.

The exhibition “Canova Glory of Treviso: From Classic Beauty to Romantic Announcement”, curated by Fabrizio Malachin, Giuseppe Pavanello and Nico Stringa, starts from this extension, an exhibition that seems to complete a kind of trilogy, like the recent ones in Naples (which examined the relation to antiquity) and Rome (beauty): Canova and the beauty of antiquity then, but also Canova as an extraordinary contemporary romantic announcer. At the exhibition it was possible to exceptionally recreate the environment planned by Canova in Palazzo Papafava, where the ancient / modern comparison is brought to its maximum essence: Apollo of the Belvedere compared with the triumphant Perseus and the Gladiator Borghese, another famous work , compared to Creugante. It is the “perfect theorem”. For the first time, the works are also being exhibited on their original plinths, which were restored for the occasion.

Staying with the heroic sculptures, the exhibition offers an unpublished one: the plaster of the preparatory horse of the famous group The Theseus fighting the Centaur of Vienna. For the centaur’s body, Canova studied a dying horse. The cast will be shown in an exhibition for the first time. The exhibition then delves into themes where sentiment predominates and where romantic modernity appears: the funerary stele (that exhibited by Falier and Volpato), the homage to the deceased, but above all meditations on the female figure concerned, we are in the field of maddalene; the gentle and amorous groups (Cupid and Psyche on display): “Know design, anatomy and dignity: Feel the grace: Understand and taste the beauty: Let your affection move you”. And again: portraits, engravings, canova festivals, photography: a path full of over 150 works developed in 11 sections.

There is no shortage of surprises in the Gallery of the 19th Century, the final section of the exhibition. What kind of love corresponded between Antonio Canova and Marianna Angeli Pascoli, a beautiful countess of Treviso. Certainly a small cameo with his portrait rests on her breast, in the bust sculpted by Luigi Zandomeneghi. The portrait of the nobles can be admired in the gallery set up in the New Bailo Museum based on a project by Marco Rapposelli of Studiomas-Padova.

The great Treviso sculptor will be the protagonist of the exhibition, but the civic heritage will not be neglected. Not only the gallery, but also some unpublished works by Canova reappeared during the preparation of the exhibition, including a bust with Antonio D’Este’s portrait of Antonio Canova. And real relics again, the cast of the hand and the artist’s death mask. A corpus of unpublished letters and the large book of 86 Canovan engravings given to Treviso in 1837 by his brother Giambattista Sartori Canova. And much more.

Alongside this are a number of Canovan materials that seldom came out of the secret rooms of the City Museums to be shown. Among them the precious sketch of the Three Graces, where on closer inspection one could discover the footprints of the master. The author of the bust of the fascinating Marianna also immortalizes Canova in a marble herm and bronze letters of dedication. Then again the sculptor in one of the versions of the famous Live Portrait of 1817-18 painted by Thomas Lawrence. The extensive Canova medals also came from the museum depots for the first time. The natural continuation of the exhibition is the Galleria dell’800, which houses works of great interest (Hayez, Zandomeneghi, Appiani, Quarena …) in a new framework that enriches the civic heritage but with a strong focus on new trends and Multimedia. , without abandoning the basic scientific principles.

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