Relevant categories: Bronzes,Fountains and Garden
(Above photo - Canova Lion in the Accademia Museum Venice )
Canova Lions refers to the pair of copies of lion sculptures by Antonio Canova. When Canova created the sculptures in 1792, he installed them on the tomb of Pope Clement XIII. The marble sculptures are some of the most prominent features in St. Peters Basilica in Rome.
Given the intricacies of creating the original Canova lions, some artists created molds and replicated them. A good example is the pair of lion sculptures at the Corcoran Gallery of Art entrance in Washington DC.
But how did Canova create such life-like, believable lion sculptures? As one of the artists in 18th-century Rome, he was known for the length of time he spent during the study phase. He was so meticulous that when the time came to create a sculpture, he would do it without making any corrections.
( Above Photo: Pair Bronze Lions Medici Cat Casting Landseer )
His large studio allowed him to execute highly-sophisticated projects for rulers like French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and Italian religious figures.
The sculptures in Washington DC had stood in their location since 1860, when they were created. So, they appeared on the scene seven decades after Canova had created the sculptures at St. Peters Basilica in Rome.
(Above photo - Pair Stone Italian Recumbant Sleeping Lions Cat Statue Sculpture )
St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican City is home to exquisite works of art by some of Italy's finest sculptors, including Michelangelo. Like Canova, Michelangelo took part in memorable sculptural and architectural projects. An example of Michelangelo's work is the sculpture of David in Florence and the frescoes he created on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
So, Canova is in the good company regarding his work quality. Having worked for St. Peters Basilica, he must have made a name for himself and attracted commissions for bigger projects. You only need to see the popularity of the Canova lions to know his impact on the world of art.
( Above Photo: Pair Bronze Lion Gatekeeper Statues - Large Cat Castings )
The two Canova lions might seem insignificant, but it's possible to derive meaning from them on closer examination. While one lion is sleeping, the other is more vibrant. Perhaps, the combination of the two lions tells us about the Pope's moderate yet determined mien.
Before he died, Canova made many copies of the two lions for different clients across the work. Other artists created copies many years after he had died. So, it's possible to see Canova lions created as late as the 19th century.
( Above Photo: Pair Large Bronze Lion Statues - Medici Gatekeeper Lions )
People love Canova Lions because of their close association with Canova. He might not have made the sculptures, but their imitation of Canova's creation makes them highly valued. Others might have no connection to Canova and are appreciated for their beauty and aesthetic value.
The Bottom Line
Canova lions represent one of the most imaginative forms of animal sculptures ever made. Even though other artists have attempted to create other kinds of animal sculptures, they haven't been as imaginative as Canova.
That's why Canova's sculptures and imitations remain popular with collectors, antique dealers, and other practitioners. You can find a high-quality Canova lion from your favorite antique shop.
Pair Bronze Lions Medici Cat C...
Pair Bronze Lions Monumental C...
Pair Bronze Lion Gatekeeper St...
Pair Large Bronze Lions - Recu...
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