two bas-reliefs came from Trieste

From May 14, it will be possible to admire in the new Bailo Museum the great and long-awaited exhibition “Canova Glory of Treviso”, which brings together more than 200 Canova testimonials, most of which have never been shown to the public. Among the novelties are the two spectacular original plaster casts of the sculptor, patrimony of Assicurazioni Generali, which arrived in Treviso in recent hours after being subjected to a restoration campaign. These are two large works (141 x 280 cm), with two very different subjects, one of which – made by the artist between 1787 and 1790, depicted “The Death of Priam”; the second, dated to the immediately following two years, depicting “The Dance of the Sons of Alcinoo”; both originally belonging to the Albrizzi Collection.

“The tragic sublime is the protagonist of the first composition, where pain and fear dominate, and with bold and new accents of truth, especially in the choice to portray Pirro completely naked,” explains Fabrizio Malachin, director of the Civic Museums of Treviso and Curator of the exhibition. “Besides the audacity of that nude, presented to the gaze of the beholder with such evidence, very intense passages are the daughters of Priam: on the left, with their arms stretched upward, they beg for mercy, as Magdalene at the foot of the Cross in a ‘work of the ‘primitives’; on the right they flee in agony, her child is held as in the Massacres of the Innocents; and again, on the far left, Priam’s wife faints and is barely supported , in memory of a Virgin at the foot of the cross”

Companion of this bas-relief is the “Dance of the sons of Alcinoo” (this time the subject is joy, grace, lively hilarity). Both episodes are inspired by the events of the Trojan War and the epic of Ulysses, based on the Odyssey and the second book of the Aeneid “The series of plaster bas-reliefs is inscribed in what can be defined, using a term used in is fashionable in contemporary art, a serial production; and even in this Canova reveals characters that help to identify him as the first modern artist.These works are the demonstration of the competition undertaken by the sculptor to assert the primacy of his art over painting to support: thus working with a narrative character. The challenge is even more demanding where the image is asked to free itself from the burden. The dance, because of the lightness of the movements, is the most risky imaginable. The path that started 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, his cymbals, to witness gen that nothing is impossible for sculpture when the creator is Canova. 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 pleased that, thanks to the precious collaboration with Generali, it will be possible to present the most beautiful works of the sculptor”, the words of Mayor Mario Conte. “We are proud that national-level players like Generali have decided to wear the City jersey to promote culture, art and its excellence, and make some of their heritage available to make it accessible to visitors “. “We are delighted that an institution like Generali, with its Spazio Generali Valore Cultura project, believed so much in our four-year program that synergy was being created. Not only will Valore Cultura 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 coming years “.


The relationship between Canova and Treviso is as deep as it is unprecedented. “Born in Treviso”, in Possagno, it is in Treviso that his ‘myth’ and the critical rediscovery of his work was born. Based on the legend of the child prodigy who, in the house Falier in Asolo, invented on the spot a sculpture in the form of a lion from a piece of butter to make up for a shortage during a banquet, put into circulation in Treviso in 1803.

Treviso was the first in the celebrations after his death: in 1823 he commissioned a bust to Luigi Zandomeneghi and a musical composition for the best musician, Gioachino Rossini, in memory of his memory (this music will accompany the exhibition). And again, when some critics still despised Canova in the post-war period, Luigi Coletti responded with the first major monographic exhibition. To understand its significance, remember that it was 1957, the second centenary of his birth, and that Treviso was the only exhibition in Italy to critically examine the sculptor’s entire work, distinguishing between a “stylistic” and a ‘poetic’ production he made. could hear the romantic announcement, if he listened carefully. These are words from Luigi Coletti from the unpublished speech delivered at the inauguration.

The exhibition “Canova glory of Treviso: from classical beauty to romantic announcement”, curated by Fabrizio Malachin, Giuseppe Pavanello and Nico Stringa, starts from this improvement, an exhibition that seems to complete a kind of trilogy like the recent one in Naples (which explored the relationship with antiquity) and Rome (beauty): Canova and the beauty of the past, but also Canova as an extraordinary contemporary romantic announcer. It was possible to exceptionally reproduce the environment planned by Canova in Palazzo Papafava, where the old-modern comparison is brought to its maximum essence: Apollo of the Belvedere compared to the triumphant Perseus, and the Gladiator Borghese, another famous work , compared to Creugante. It’s the ‘perfect statement’. For the first time, the works are also exhibited on the original pedestals restored for the occasion.

Remaining with the heroic sculptures, the exhibition offers an unpublished: the plaster of the preparatory horse of the famous group The Theseus fighting with the centaur of Vienna. In front of the centaur’s body, Canova studied a dying horse. The cast is featured in an exhibition for the first time. The exhibition then explores themes where sentiment predominates and where romantic modernity emerges: the funerary stela (the Falier and Volpato on display), tribute to the deceased, but above all meditations on the afflicted female figure, we are in the field of the Maddalena; 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 touch you”. And again: portraits, engravings, Canova parties, photography: a journey full of more than 150 works, developed in 11 sections.

In the 19th century gallery, the last part of the exhibition, there is no shortage of surprises. What kind of love corresponded between Antonio Canova and Marianna Angeli Pascoli, a beautiful Countess of Treviso. Sure, a small cameo with the portrait of him rests on her chest, sculpted into the bust by Luigi Zandomeneghi. The effigy of the noblewoman can be admired in the gallery, set up in the New Bailo Museum with a project by Marco Rapposelli of Studiomas-Padova.

The great sculptor from Treviso will be the main character of the exhibition, but there is no lack of attention to the civic heritage. Not only the gallery, but also several unpublished works by Canova resurfaced during the preparation of the exhibition, such as a bust depicting Antonio D’Este’s Portrait of Antonio Canova. And again, real relics, the cast of the hand and the artist’s grave mask. A corpus of unpublished letters and the great book of 86 Canova engravings, donated to Treviso by his brother Giambattista Sartori Canova in 1837. And much more.

In addition, a succession of Canovian materials that rarely came out of the secret rooms of the Civic Museums to be displayed. Among them, the precious sketch of the Three Graces, where upon closer inspection you could discover the master’s footprints. The author of the bust of the fascinating Marianna also immortalizes Canova, in a marble ermine and bronze letters of dedication. Then again the sculptor in one of the versions of the famous Live Portrait from 1817-18 painted by Thomas Lawrence. The voluminous 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 importance (Hayez, Zandomeneghi, Appiani, Quarena ..), in a new setting that enhances the civic heritage, but with a strong focus on new trends and multimedia. , never giving up the basic scientific basis.

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