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Canova e la Danza

The exhibition “Canova e la Danza” presents sixteen tempera paintings, made between 1799 and 1806, by the great Italian artist Antonio Canova, a premier for the American public, and on view again for the first time following their recent restoration.  The paintings are a loan from the Gipsoteca e Museo Canova, (Canova Museum and Plaster Casts Gallery), in Possagno (Treviso) and the exhibit is curated by Mario Guderzo, director of the Museum.

On view from May 23 to June 28, 2018  Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm.


Canova is the best known and the greatest of the neoclassical sculptors who worked between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. During his life he obtained worldwide fame and recognition for his work, and he still remains one of the most eminent figures of sculpture of all times.
Although he is not as famous as a painter, his paintings are of a very high quality, and their subjects and attributes recall the great tradition of ancient art, in particular Greek and Roman.

The works on display, painted between 1799 and 1806, are all the tempera paintings that Canova dedicated to “Dance” and depict figures of nymphs and dancers:  subjects inspired by Pompeian scenes. Together, represent some of Canova’s most beautiful paintings. They are characterized by their black backgrounds and their playful and fascinating settings.

During the times when he distanced himself from sculpting, the artist had the opportunity, through these works, to focus his attention on what memory and classical tradition highlighted: themes to meditate on, first by drawing and then with tempera. Each of these small paintings was also meant as a study that could, on a larger scale, lead to the realization of bas-reliefs or sculptures.

In all the tempera paintings the inspiration is clearly classical: the representation of nymphs and cupids occurs in different examples of Greek vase-painting and on reliefs, and in Roman friezes. Thus, in these Canova’s works, young, draped female figures are placed in space according to patterns defined by the narration, with emphatic movements and attitudes. The artist recounts, through the refined grace of the forms, scenes of fresh simplicity.


The exhibition is organized in collaboration with la Gipsoteca e Museo Canova (Canova Museum and Plaster Casts Gallery) in Possagno, (Treviso), Italy, and in coordination with the Frick Collection that during the same time, at the end of May, will host the plaster of the George Washington Statue kept in Possagno, whose original marble has been destroyed.
Jointly,  the Consulate General of Italy in New York,  will host a photographic exhibition dedicated to Canova’s sculptures.

Reservation no longer available

  • Organized by: ICI
  • In collaboration with: Gipsoteca e Museo Canova - Possagno