Canova’s dance

Antonio Canova (Possagno 1757 – Venice 1822) did not think highly of his own paintings. He said he painted only for himself, and therefore did not show his canvases to the public. Indeed, these works pale in comparison with his splendid sculptures.

However, Canova’s entire artistic journey was imbued in the research for beauty, elegance, and lightness. His series of paintings on dance proves it. He focused on it mostly during the occupation of Rome by French troops (1798-1799), when he returned for a couple of years to Veneto, where he was born, and started to sketch goddesses, damsels and cherubs in graceful dance positions.

Perhaps, the ethereal suspension of these figures represented the artist’s “suspense”, as he waited for the chance to work with his most congenial techniques again.

But beauty, elegance, and lightness certainly give substance even to this temporary diversion of his in the world of painting.

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December 13, 2013