(b Possagno, nr Treviso, Nov 1, 1757; d Venice, Oct 13, 1822).
Italian sculptor, painter, draughtsman, and architect. He became the most innovative and widely acclaimed Neo-classical sculptor. His development during the 1780s of a new style of revolutionary severity and idealistic purity led many of his contemporaries to prefer his ideal sculptures to such previously universally admired antique statues as the Medici Venus and the Farnese Hercules, thus greatly increasing the prestige of ‘modern’ sculpture. He was also much in demand as a portraitist, often combining a classicizing format with a naturalistic presentation of features.
Antonio Canova was the son of Pietro Canova (1735–61), a stonecutter of Possagno. He was brought up by his grandfather, Pasino Canova (1714–94), a mediocre sculptor who specialized in altars with statues and low reliefs in late Baroque style (e.g. Angels; Crespano, S Marco). In 1770 or 1771 Antonio was apprenticed to the sculptor Giuseppe Bernardi (d 1774) in Pagnano, near Asolo, later following him to Venice. After Bernardi’s death he worked for a few months in the studio of the sculptor ...