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Antonio Canova

(1757 Possagno – 1822 Venice)

Standing Male Nude in Left Profile. Pen and brown ink over graphite. 49 x 33.5 cm. Ca. 1800.

Stylistically this drawing is closely akin to a set of nudes drawn by Canova between 1793 and 1807. Bound in an album – known as Album D 1 – they are now kept in the Museo Civico in Bassano (see Elena Bassi (ed.), Catalogue Il Museo Civico di Bassano / I Disegni di Antonio Canova, Venice 1959, p. 71 ff.). Our drawing belongs to a small, hitherto unknown set of studies probably taken from a lost sketchbook. All the sheets are numbered in pen and ink in the top left-hand corner. The male figures are treated in the same schematic and linear graphic style, while the details of the musculature and the surfaces of the body are summarily indicated by pencil strokes or simple hatching patterns. These are sculptor’s drawings in the truest sense of the word. Many of the studies were not done by Canova after nature, but working from his memory. They often reproduce ancient sculptures the artist had seen in Rome. Canova’s authorship has been confirmed by Professor David Bindman of the University College, London (written statement of September 6, 2007).

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