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Pauline Bonaparte (1805-1808) | Antonio Canova

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La Dea Paolina. Il Ritratto di Paolina Bonaparte come "Venere Vincitrice" alla Galleria Borghese
A. Costamagna
Punto metallico, 15x21 cm, pp. 32, 14 ill. col., 21 tavv.b/n.
€ 4,00

Il dossier approfondisce la scultura del celebre artista Antonio Canova, della quale l’artista inizia ad occuparsi nel 1804 e che oggi è collocata al centro della sala I della Galleria Borghese. L’opera è messa al confronto con altre raffigurazioni della Venere del XVII e XIX secolo
The reclining Pauline Bonaparte in the center of the room holds an apple (fig. 1) in her hand evoking the Venus Victrix in the judgement of Paris, who was chosen to settle a dispute between Juno (power), Minerva (arts and science) and Venus (love). The same subject was painted on the ceiling by Domenico de Angelis (1779), framed by Giovan Battista Marchetti's tromp d'oeil architecture, and was inspired by a famous relief on the façade of the Villa Medici.
This marble statue of Pauline in a highly refined pose is considered a supreme example of the Neoclassical style. Antonio Canova executed this portrait (fig. 2) between 1805 and 1808 without the customary drapery of a person of high rank, an exception at the time, thus transforming this historical figure into a goddes of antiquity in a pose of classical tranquillity and noble semplicity.
The woodden base, draped like a catafalque, once contained a mechanism (fig. 3) that caused the sculpture to rotate, as in the case of other works by Canova. The roles of artwork and spectator were thus reversed, it was the sculpture that moved whilst the spectator stood still and observed the splendid statue from all angles. In the past, viewers admired the softly gleaming sculpture of Pauline by candlelight and its lustre was not only due to the fine quality of the marble but also to the waxed surface, which has been recently restored (fig. 4).
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