Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This sculpture depicts Venus, the Roman goddess of love. In both ancient and modern times, Venus symbolizes fertility, sex, love, and imperial power.
- Neoclassicism was a cultural movement in the 18th and 19th centuries. Art and architecture inspired by ancient Greece and Rome became popular during this time period.
- Antonio Canova was an Italian sculptor during the same time period. He was one of the artists who brought neoclassical style to sculpture. This sculpture is one of several replicas (copies) that Canova’s workshop made after he created the original sculpture.
- This sculpture was created by Canova’s workshop. Many successful artists during Canova’s time had workshops of assistants who helped them complete their commissions. Sometimes (as in this case) the assistants created the work without the help of the artist.
This copy by a talented pupil of Antonio Canova was made after the original commissioned by the Academy in Florence. The sculpture, which shows Venus, the Roman goddess of love, partially covering her nude body, was instantly successful. Its beauty and fame created a market for replicas, and at least four versions were made before Canova’s death.
Canova’s sculptures are considered neoclassical, a movement that sought to revive ancient Greek and Roman art and culture in Europe around 1800. Among other things, neoclassicism emphasized the false narrative that the most important achievements in human history came from white, Western civilizations.
Resources for Teachers
- Read the artist’s biography.
- Read an article about the history and symbolism of Venus.
- Read an essay about neoclassicism.
- Read an article about the role of artist workshops.
Resources for Students