Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova (1757 – 1822) is considered the greatest Neoclassical sculptor of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Praised across Europe for his carving skills and the subtlety of his marble surfaces, the Italian sculptor quickly became the most celebrated artist of his day. Canova broke with the Baroque tradition, developing a groundbreaking new aesthetic inspired by classical Antiquity.

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The V&A holds two of Canova's most emblematic pieces, 'The Three Graces', jointly owned by National Museums Scotland, and 'Theseus and the Minotaur', which were transported to England before the artist's death in 1822. From the 19th century onwards, his sculpture has continued to inspire artists who have copied and reinterpreted his work in a variety of materials, including bronze, plaster, porcelain and glass. Several of these examples can also be found in our collection.


Header image:

Antonio Canova in his studio with Henry Tresham and a plaster model for Cupid and Psyche, pastel, by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, 1788 – 1791, Rome, Italy. Museum no. E.406-1998. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London