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

Napoleon I

Palazzo Brera, Milan

Summoned to Paris in 1802 to execute a monument to Napoleon, Canova first set down the features in a plaster bust. The model for the colossal figure (over 14 feet high), portrayed in the classical manner as an idealized, heroic nude, was finished in 1808, and the marble statue was completed in 1811. Napoleon disliked it, and it was eventually sold to the English Government and placed in the Duke of Wellington's palatial house in London. The bronze version in the Brera, also completed in 1811, is reduced in size. Like some peace-bringing Mars, the Emperor holds in one hand a Victory figure balanced on a globe, and in the other, a sceptre surmounted by an eagle.

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