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Canova’s George Washington

Frick Collection, New York

23 May - 23 Sep 2018

This exhibition examines the history of the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova’s lost statue of George Washington, probably the least well known of his public monuments. Canova was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson to produce a full-length statue of America’s first president in ancient Roman garb in 1816, to stand in the State Senate at the North Carolina State House in Raleigh. The result was unveiled to great acclaim in 1821. However, the statue was destroyed in a fire only a decade after its completion.

The exhibition brings together for the first time Canova’s full-sized preparatory plaster model (which has never before left Italy), four preparatory sketches for the sculpture, and related engravings and drawings. The exhibition also includes Thomas Lawrence’s oil portrait of Canova from 1816, which, like the model and several sketches, will be on loan from the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy, the birthplace of the artist. Find out more about ‘Canova’s George Washington’ from the Frick’s website. 

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Modello for George Washington, Antonio Canova

Modello for George Washington (1818), Antonio Canova. Photo: Fabio Zonta; courtesy Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno and Fondazione Canova onlus, Possagno

Bozzetto for George Washington, Antonio Canova

Bozzetto for George Washington (1817), Antonio Canova. Photo: Fabio Zonta; courtesy Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno and Fondazione Canova onlus, Possagno

Studies for the Equestrian Monument to Charles III of Naples and for George Washington, Antonio Canova

Studies for the Equestrian Monument to Charles III of Naples and for George Washington (1817), Antonio Canova. Courtesy MBA Musei Biblioteca Archivio di Bassano del Grappa

Antonio Canova, Thomas Lawrence

Antonio Canova (1815–19), Sir Thomas Lawrence. Courtesy Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno and Fondazione Canova onlus, Possagno

The Marquis de Lafayette Visiting the State Capitol in Raleigh in March 1825, Albert Newsam, after Joseph Weisman and Emanuel Leutze

The Marquis de Lafayette Visiting the State Capitol in Raleigh in March 1825 (1840s), Albert Newsam, after Joseph Weisman and Emanuel Leutze

Event website