CANOVA, Antonio
(b. 1757, Possagno, d. 1822, Venezia)

Tomb of Pope Clement XIII

Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican

Canova got commissions for two papal tombs, that of Clement XIV, which was finished in 1787, and that of Clement XIII, which was finished in 1792. He had to take into account in his design of the major Baroque funerary monuments in Saint Peter's. However, he did make striking innovations. In particular, he simplified the dramatic effect, replacing elaborate rhetoric with clear gestures. One of his most moving achievements was the portrayal of Death on the tomb of Clement XIII. In place of the Christian image of a frightened skeleton so popular with medieval and Baroque artists, he shows a beautiful mourning youth with a turned-down torch.