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appeared without number. An artist who had made some statues for the church, and who conceived himself knowing and eloquent, lectured to a crowd of Romans on its defects. His name was Bergondi. A plain gentleman after a while begged to say one word, and the orator was silent. “You must know, good people," said the gentleman, pointing to Bergondi, "that this is the man who sculptured these frogs which you there see, and which he calls angels; they are villanously ugly as you may all observe." The critic hastily retired, and had it not been that they stood in the sacred temple of St. Peter, he would have been followed by the shouts of all the bystanders.
Canova was perfectly aware of the strictures passed upon his work, and replied to them with true greatness of mind, only by saying that they should serve to excite him to do better.
From the time that the group of Theseus and the Minotaur was finished, Abondio Rezzonico, a Roman senator, determined to employ Canova to erect a magnificent monument to his uncle Rezzonico, Pope Clement XIII, to be placed in the basilica of the Vatican.
'This vast idea occupied the mind of the sculptor for some time, as the work was to be located in so conspicuous and august a situation. He was inspired with great ardour while at this task, which consumed many years; it was at length finished in 1795, and placed in St. Peter's. It was exhibited on Holy Wednesday, and the mysterious light shed on it by the illumination of the grand cross heightened its effect. The concourse of people was immense. All concurred in admiring the felicitous conception and execution of the Genius and the lions at the foot of the sarcophagus, where the repose of the one is so happily contrasted with the fierceness of the other. Canova, that he might hear all the criticisms, and obtain a full knowledge of public opinion, disguised himself as an abbate ; altered his physiognomy; mixed with the crowd in a ragged mantle, amusing himself with their prattle, and at last stood close to Rezzonico himself, who made signs of giving him something to induce him to withdraw, believing him to be a beggar. He heard all the praises and censures of the work with his usual equanimity, and to some one who said that the statue of Religion was not free enough, and was too gravely dressed, he replied, he had made it so in order to approximate to the costumes of the finest priests of antiquity; and if he were to do it again he would perhaps not alter it much. Pope Pius VI, the great benefactor of the arts, was filled with admiration. The acclamations at the appearance of this superb monument soon reached France, and the learned Quatremère gave it his warmest VOL. XVIII.- NO. 37. 10
and unqualified encomiums. A beautiful engraving of it was made by Morghen, the husband of his former mistress.
Such was the unremitting industry and enthusiasm of Canova, that he never seemed hungry or thirsty, hot or cold. From the moment he first came to Rome he generally rose at daylight, and repaired to the Quirinale to contemplate the groups of the ancients and study their attitudes; and while wandering about among these famous monuments, there was not a day that he did not discern some new beauty. In this manner he alternated his studies between nature and antiquity, and works came from his hands as if by inspiration.
It will scarcely be believed, that from 1785 until 1798, he completed other works, besides these two great monuments, which would have been thought amply sufficient to occupy any artist. Two amorinos were made by him-one for the Princess Lugamisky, another for Lord Cawdor; these are without the ancient appendages, but they teem with beauty. Canova was so refined in his sentiments that it produced an hibitual conformity to all the decencies of the art. True beauty purifies the senses, never corrupts them; raises, not debases, the soul. He made a Psyche for Blundel, an English nobleman. This figure represents a girl of fourteen years of age, or thereabouts, with so much purity and innocence, that it was said to be the true image of the human soul exhibited to the senses. He executed a still more beautiful one, a copy of this, and wished, in gratitude to his friend Zulian, who was returning to Venice, to present it to him; but he constantly declined, and made the artist dispose of it for his own profit. It passed into the possession of Count Mangili; when Napoleon seeing it, was so delighted that he purchased it at the highest price, and sent it as a present to the Queen of Bavaria. Besides the sweetness, there is a nobleness and gentleness in the expression of this work which elicit the deepest admiration. He also executed Love and Psyche reclining.
While pursuing his labours, he was not neglectful of the cultivation of the belles lettres, knowing how intimately they were connected with his art; and from his savings he early commenced the formation of his library, which he annually enriched with the finest classical works of every nation, as well as the most distinguished treatises on the arts. He also applied himself to the French and English languages, to which he devoted the time usually given to repose and recreation. But of all his books, none gave him so much pleasure as Plutarch, and none of his heroes pleased him like Phocion: a man, he said, magnanimous, witty, severe, and modest.
He became well versed in history and archaiology, and read the Greek classics in Italian translations. His bas reliefs show
how perfect his conception was of the objects of Grecian history. A great connoisseur, on seeing the death of Socrates, exclaimed" Blessed be the hand and the mind that produced such works." Although our sculptor excelled in the mechanical parts of his profession, it was in the intellectual portion that he was so much superior to all his contemporaries. If mere manual dexterity could excite lasting pleasure in the mind, the Fall of Lucifer, by Falsoletto, done with heroic patience, and remaining in the palace of Count Papafava, at Padua, would be regarded as a performance of the greatest Here are sixty angels falling from heaven, in as many varieties of attitudes. The works also in the chapel of St. Severo, at Naples, which were for a long time regarded as the greatest of human genius, would still be admired, but an improved taste has consigned them to their proper rank, and they have ceased to hold that unmerited pre-eminence.
Canova, after a severe illness, brought on by his too great application, returned to Venice, where he made a monument for Angelo Emo, the last Venetian admiral. He then visited his birth-place, where he was received with princely honours, and after again returning to Rome, he soon finished the monument to Emo, which was ordered to be placed in the arsenal at Venice, where it remains. The senate gave him a pension of one hundred ducats a month, for life. About this time, he lost, through the treachery of a supposed friend, four thousand crowns of the savings from his works, of which the wretch basely defrauded him. He consoled himself by work, and made the group of Venus and Adonis, for the Marquis Salsa de Berio, a Neapolitan, which still more increased his fame. This work, at the death of Berio, fell into the hands of Colonel Favre, of Geneva. This group he retouched many years afterwards, and it finally became the property of General Murat; a copy of it was afterwards made for the Empress Josephine. It was subsequently purchased by the Emperor of Russia, for the embellishment of St. Petersburg. His next important works were the Magdalen and Hebe, the first of which was for Priuli, and of which a copy was made for Prince Eugene Beauharnais; the latter was repeated several times, for Lord Cawdor, for the Empress Josephine, and others.
He intermitted his labours for a while; a young Venetian painter who lived with him, used to speak of painting as a mysterious art, a gift from heaven-while he ran on in this strain, Canova was disposed to dissent from his opinions, and declared painting to be much more easy than sculpture, and going to work, he painted several good pictures from others in the academy. He also painted a Venus, large as life, in the attitude of repose, and holding in her hand a mirror. This
picture was set aside in the studio, where it was for several years forgotten. At the end of this time, he showed it to several good painters. They praised it much, and said it was of the Venetian school, but the correctness of the design surpassed it; and finally determined it was an antique! He also painted the portrait of Giorgione, and deceived all the artists and amateurs. He continued for some time to amuse himself with painting, and drew several portraits of himself. In the mean time, war raged in Europe, and, Italy being overrun with French troops, the arts were all arrested in their progress at Rome, and great distress came upon their cultivators. Now it was, that Canova showed how open his heart and purse were to charity; his exertions for the relief of the sufferers were truly laudable. Wherever he appeared in the streets, his beneficence was felt, and he continued this virtuous practice through life.
After the destruction of the Venetian republic by Napoleon, the pension from the Venetian state was discontinued, but Bonaparte wrote immediately to him as follows:
"It has been made known to me by one of your friends that you have been deprived of the pension you enjoyed from Venice. The French republic duly appreciates the great talents by which you are distinguished. So celebrated an artist as you are, is particularly entitled to the protection of the army of Italy. I have given orders that your pension be exactly and punctually paid, and I pray you will advise me if this command be faithfully executed, and accept of my assurance of the desire I entertain to do whatever can turn to your advantage."
He left Rome in 1798, and after spending some time at his native place, accompanied his friend Rezzonico, as traveling companion, through Germany, where he was received in every capital with the greatest respect and distinction; and at the cession of Lombardy to Austria the emperor invited him to remove to Vienna, but he never would consent to leave Rome.
His remarks during his travels, on the works of the great painters which came under his eye, are replete with sound criticism. He became more fond of painting, and made a picture, on his return to his native place, for the church, which was highly honourable to his talents.
A better state of things having been established at Rome by the restoration of Pope Pius VII, Canova returned with new ardour to his studio. Then truly commenced his prolific labours, when he was obliged to enlarge his studio and employ numerous co-operators. After several designs and works, he made the group of Hercules and Lichas. The action of the group is taken from Trachinie. Hercules is represented as becoming furious from the burning shirt soaked in poison, which belonged to Nessus, and taking the young boy Lichas by
the hair with the right hand and by the foot with the left, he is in the act of throwing him, with wild rage, into the sea.
The court of Naples had made arrangements for the purchase and reception of this group, but the revolutions which succeeded frustrated their plans. It is in the palace of the Marquis Torlonia, at Rome.
His next grand work was Perseus and Medusa, which was placed in the situation before occupied by the Apollo. The despoiling of the Vatican and all Italy of the finest monuments was severely felt every where, but especially at Rome, the ancient school of the fine arts. In 1805 Pope Pius VII appointed Canova to be inspector general of the fine arts in Rome and all the pontifical states.
Napoleon, while first consul, invited him to Paris in order to execute his statue, and other works; and being advised by the pope and other friends to go, he prepared himself for the voyage. The French minister at Rome presented him with a beautiful traveling carriage; and he was received every where in France with signal eclat. On his arrival at Paris he was met by the minister of the interior, who accompanied him to St. Cloud, where the first consul welcomed him with the greatest kindness and affability.
The ingenuous artist solicited the liberty of speaking freely and with candour on the various subjects connected with the arts, and explained at length the lamentable general adversity at Rome, and the decay of the public monuments.
"I will restore Rome," said the first consul-"I have the good of mankind at heart, and wish to promote it; but what do you now wish?" "Nothing," replied Canova, "but to obey your orders." "Make my statue," said Bonaparte, and dismissed him. At the end of three days he returned with the clay to St. Cloud, took breakfast with the first consul and Josephine, and commenced the model.
While the artist, was at work, Napoleon would read, or converse playfully with Josephine, or talk to the artist on politics. When speaking of despoiling Rome of all the fine ancient statues, Canova complained bitterly to him, and told him all Italy felt the privation. But on adverting to the bronze horses taken from St. Mark's, at Venice, Canova was deeply affected, and mentioned that the subversion of that republic would distress his mind through life. Bonaparte indulged in a familiarity with him which was not usual towards any body else, and of which others were jealous.
While modeling the head he told the first consul, "It must be confessed, that this head and physiognomy are so favourable to sculpture, that it might be taken as belonging to one of the greatest men of antiquity. I think I shall succeed admirably,