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PhotoHunt: Time

It's interesting and also a bit odd when artists play with time as Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova did with his sculpture of George Washington. The artist traveled back in time several centuries to present the First U.S. President as an ancient Roman statesman. It's not how I picture George at all!

NC Museum of History

It was also odd to stumble across this Venice - North Carolina connection a few months ago. I found the Canova sculpture in the NC Museum of History (it was labeled as Giorgio Washington, which made me laugh).

I learned that in the early 19th century, the state of North Carolina commissioned Canova to create this sculpture, which was delivered in 1821 and placed in the State Capitol building in Raleigh, NC. Unfortunately, its life was short; the sculpture was destroyed by fire in 1831.

Then in 1910, Italy gave North Carolina a plaster replica of the destroyed sculpture and that's what you see in these photos I took in the museum in Raleigh.

NC Museum of History

Canova (1757-1822) was born in the Venetian Republic, not in Venice proper but in the mainland town of Possagno. A child prodigy, he was sent to Venice to study sculpture when he was a teenager (he had a studio in the Santo Stefano monastery). He later moved to Rome and traveled all over Europe during his career but returned late in life to Venice where he died in 1822.

From Hugh Honour (The Companion Guide to Venice):

"Canova established himself as the leading sculptor in Italy and before the century was out, he was widely regarded as the greatest that Europe had produced since Antiquity. Popes, emperors, and kings competed for his services and treated him with a deference accorded to no Venetian artist since Titian...while Canova was the last of the great Venetians, he was the first of the international artists of the nineteenth century."

After the fall of Napoleon, Canova used his influence to get the French to return some of the great art they had looted from Italy, including the Horses of San Marco.

The Museo Correr in Venice has a number of Canova's sculptures, and the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari contains his funeral monument (his heart is there but the rest of his body is in the church he designed in Possagno).

This funeral monument was created by Canova's students, based on a design by Canova himself for a never-completed monument to Titian.

More time travel, this time to the 1870's - a couple of vintage images of the Canova monument in the Frari. The first is a photograph by Carlo Naya, the second an engraving showing 19th century tourists visiting the church.

canova tomb

Canova's Tomb in Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

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Comments (12)

Oh wow That is an interesting sculpture. What a creative way to combine very different eras. The monument is cool too Has a Masonic feel :)

wow, what a beautiful sculpture. great post.

Fascinating post and I have to say I find the re-imaging of George Washington a tad bizarre. Good sculpture but what were they thinking. Happy Weekend. This up and down weather we're having is another bizarre happening.

Giorgio Washington looks very different in white! very interesting.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, wonderful post. I love your photo of Giorgio Washington's sculpture. Thanks so much for the historical information. I enjoyed learning about Canova's life. Very cool take on this week's theme.

Have a wonderful weekend.


I wonder if George Washington ever envisioned himself like this -- or even attired like this! ;b

Interesting sculpture of George Washington in a different era.
Happy New Year Annie!


Oh my...not sure what to make of Canova's creative direction for that statue, tres bizarre. lol Fabulous photos!

I'm pretty sure I have a photo of that monument in the Frari. I took it when I was there with Dave and the girls in 2007. When I was back the next year with Maria, photos weren't allowed.

Giorgio Washington, hehehe !
I wonder if George Washington really had such legs ! That's really a funny picture !

Thank you so much for your continuing research, and presentation of interesting 'stuff' to us. I love Canova's work, especially the lovely bottoms he created on his sculptures. I wonder what Giorgio's is like! :-)


Wow, that is so interesting. I have never seen "Giorgio" Washington portrayed thus. And brava for finding a bit of Italy in North Carolina! You are a sleuth!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 10, 2014 11:32 AM.

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