Antonio Canova and the Dead part 2
Updated: Sep 13, 2022
I stated in a previous post that Antonio Canova’s “sculptures come to life when he grapples with the suffering and pain of death and loss”. In these preparatory drawings on canvas* found in the Museo Civico di Bassano del Grappa, I would have to add that Canova had an uncanny insight into human suffering as we face an indisputable fact: we are going to die and so is everyone we know and love. A fact that was true in Canova’s times as it still holds true today.
In Due Donne Piangenti, the room is devoid of any comfort. The simple stool is the only furniture needed. Everything else is superfluous. Our pain is solitary. No one else can comfort us at that moment. A fact that doesn’t change even for the more affluent among us. The only difference is they may have a more elaborate stool to do their mourning on (see Compianto della Contessa De Haro).
In Donna Piangente Accanto ad un Busto, the bust reminds us of what we have lost. We are left with photographs and memories and at that moment we mourn the fragility of our own memories.
But rise from mourning we must and the living continues to live with the ferocity of a lion.
*These drawings on canvas represent an intermediate stage in the making of the final sculptures for the study of light and shadows.