Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
204
CANOSSA—CANOVA

is the detached mausoleum of Bohemund, son of Robert Guiscard, who died in 1111, constructed partly in Byzantine, partly in the local style. It has fine bronze doors with long inscriptions; the exterior is entirely faced with cipollino (Carystian) marble. The conception of this mortuary chapel, which is unique at this period, was undoubtedly derived from the turbeh before a mosque; these turbehs are square, domed-roofed tombs in which the sultans and distinguished Mahommedans are buried (E. Bertaux, L’Art dans l’Italie mêridionale, Paris, 1904, i. 312). A medieval castle crowns the hill on the side of which the city stands. (See Canusium.)  (T. As.) 


CANOSSA, a ruined castle, 1890 ft. above sea-level, in Emilia, Italy, 12 m. S.W. of Reggio Emilia, commanding a fine view of the Apennines. It belonged to the countess Matilda of Tuscany (d. 1115), and is famous as the scene of the penance performed by the emperor Henry IV. before Pope Gregory VII. in 1077. The castle was destroyed by the inhabitants of Reggio in 1255.


CANOVA, ANTONIO (1757–1822), Italian sculptor, was born on the 1st of November 1757, at Passagno, an obscure village situated amid the recesses of the hills of Asolo, where these form the last undulations of the Venetian Alps, as they subside into the plains of Treviso. At three years of age Canova was deprived of both parents, his father dying and his mother remarrying. Their loss, however, was compensated by the tender solicitude and care of his paternal grandfather and grandmother, the latter of whom lived to experience in her turn the kindest personal attention from her grandson, who, when he had the means, gave her an asylum in his house at Rome. His father and grandfather followed the occupation of stone-cutters or minor statuaries; and it is said that their family had for several ages supplied Passagno with members of that calling. As soon as Canova’s hand could hold a pencil, he was initiated into the principles of drawing by his grandfather Pasino. The latter possessed some knowledge both of drawing and of architecture, designed well, and showed considerable taste in the execution of ornamental works. He was greatly attached to his art; and upon his young charge he looked as one who was to perpetuate, not only the family name, but also the family profession.

The early years of Canova were passed in study. The bias of his mind was to sculpture, and the facilities afforded for the gratification of this predilection in the workshop of his grandfather were eagerly improved. In his ninth year he executed two small shrines of Carrara marble, which are still extant. Soon after this period he appears to have been constantly employed under his grandfather. Amongst those who patronized the old man was the patrician family Falier of Venice, and by this means young Canova was first introduced to the senator of that name, who afterwards became his most zealous patron. Between the younger son, Giuseppe Falier, and the artist a friendship commenced which terminated only with life. The senator Falier was induced to receive him under his immediate protection. It has been related by an Italian writer and since repeated by several biographers, that Canova was indebted to a trivial circumstance—the moulding of a lion in butter—for the warm interest which Falier took in his welfare. The anecdote may or may not be true. By his patron Canova was placed under Bernardi, or, as he is generally called by filiation, Torretto, a sculptor of considerable eminence, who had taken up a temporary residence at Pagnano, a village in the vicinity of the senator’s mansion. This took place whilst Canova was in his thirteenth year; and with Torretto he continued about two years, making in many respects considerable progress. This master returned to Venice, where he soon afterwards died; but by the high terms in which he spoke of his pupil to Falier, the latter was induced to bring the young artist to Venice, whither he accordingly went, and was placed under a nephew of Torretto. With this instructor he continued about a year, studying with the utmost assiduity. After the termination of this engagement he began to work on his own account, and received from his patron an order for a group, “Orpheus and Eurydice.” The first figure, which represents Eurydice in flames and smoke, in the act of leaving Hades, was completed towards the close of his sixteenth year. It was highly esteemed by his patron and friends, and the artist was now considered qualified to appear before a public tribunal. The kindness of some monks supplied him with his first workshop, which was the vacant cell of a monastery. Here for nearly four years he laboured with the greatest perseverance and industry. He was also regular in his attendance at the academy, where he carried off several prizes. But he relied far more on the study and imitation of nature. From his contemporaries he could learn nothing, for their style was vicious. From their works, therefore, he reverted to living models, as exhibited in every variety of situation. A large portion of his time was also devoted to anatomy, which science was regarded by him as “the secret of the art.” He likewise frequented places of public amusement, where he carefully studied the expressions and attitudes of the performers. He formed a resolution, which was faithfully adhered to for several years, never to close his eyes at night without having produced some design. Whatever was likely to forward his advancement in sculpture he studied with ardour. On archaeological pursuits he bestowed considerable attention. With ancient and modern history he rendered himself well acquainted and he also began to acquire some of the continental languages.

Three years had now elapsed without any production coming from his chisel. He began, however, to complete the group for his patron, and the Orpheus which followed evinced the great advance he had made. The work was universally applauded, and laid the foundation of his fame. Several groups succeeded this performance, amongst which was that of “Daedalus and Icarus,” the most celebrated work of his noviciate. The simplicity of style and the faithful imitation of nature which characterized them called forth the warmest admiration. His merits and reputation being now generally recognized, his thoughts began to turn from the shores of the Adriatic to the banks of the Tiber, for which he set out at the commencement of his twenty-fourth year.

Before his departure for Rome, his friends had applied to the Venetian senate for a pension, to enable him to pursue his studies without embarrassment. The application was ultimately successful. The stipend amounted to three hundred ducats (about £60 per annum), and was limited to three years. Canova had obtained letters of introduction to the Venetian ambassador, the Cavaliere Zulian, and enlightened and generous protector of the arts, and was received in the most hospitable manner. His arrival in Rome, on the 28th of December 1780, marks a new era in his life. It was here he was to perfect himself by a study of the most splendid relics of antiquity, and to put his talents to the severest test by a competition with the living masters of the art. The result was equal to the highest hopes cherished either by himself or by his friends. The work which first established his fame at Rome was “Theseus vanquishing the Minotaur.” The figures are of the heroic size. The victorious Theseus is represented as seated on the lifeless body of the monster. The exhaustion which visibly pervades his whole frame proves the terrible nature of the conflict in which he has been engaged. Simplicity and natural expression had hitherto characterized Canova’s style; with these were now united more exalted conceptions of grandeur and of truth. The Theseus was regarded with fervent admiration.

Canova’s next undertaking was a monument in honour of Clement XIV.; but before he proceeded with it he deemed it necessary to request permission from the Venetian senate, whose servant he considered himself to be, in consideration of the pension. This he solicited in person, and it was granted. He returned immediately to Rome, and opened his celebrated studio close to the Via del Babuino. He spent about two years of unremitting toil in arranging the design and composing the models for the tomb of the pontiff. After these were completed, other two years were employed in finishing the monument, and it was finally opened to public inspection in 1787 The work, in the opinion of enthusiastic dilettanti, stamped the author as the first artist of modern times. After five years of incessant labour, he completed another cenotaph to the memory of Clement