In the heart of Rome, in via del Babuino, the museum, atelier and “art restaurant” Canova Tadolini flaunts scowling and benevolent pope busts, simulacra of muscular gods, bas-relieves of pale aristocrats lost in their thoughts, wings that once belonged to Nike or to an archangel – all peeping out of the walls, or making an impression from a pedestal amidst the typical chaos of an art workshop.
Paul Claudel’s words are fitting to describe the overall mood: “Order is the pleasure of the reason; but disorder is the delight of the imagination.” Here Antonio Canova, the greatest sculptor of Italian Neoclassicism, established the studio he later left to his favorite apprentice, Adamo Tasolini – who in turn passed it on to his descendants, who were also talented sculptors. The atelier belonged to Tasolini’s family until 1967.
Today it is still an untidy breeding ground of works inspired by the ideal of neoclassical orderly beauty, and much more. The models and working tools treasured here tell the story of two centuries of sculpture, intertwining neoclassical grace, romantic impetus and bourgeois intimism – which happily live together in this environment, shared with a cafe and restaurant. Truly a delight of the imagination.