Neoclassical sculptures: from Canova to Pompeo Marchesi

Neoclassical sculptures

Neoclassicism combines beauty and virtue in contrast to the whimsical character of Baroque art and Rococo art. In the neoclassical aesthetic, sculpture undoubtedly occupies a fundamental role, precisely because in this art the ideal of beauty typical of the Greeks is concretized.

The sculpture shows in this period the artistic form that best lends itself to neoclassical theories. The realization of the statues, apparently cold and impersonal, concealed in reality precise choices and impeccable technique.

Many neoclassical sculptures performed civil and didactic functions, and were therefore interconnected with the architecture to complement civil buildings, monuments and columns. Much importance was given to the preparatory sketches that represented the personality of the artist.

Antonio Canova: the highest representative of Italian Neoclassicism

The most famous artist of Italian neoclassicism is Antonio Canova, nicknamed for this reason “the new Fidia”.

Antonio Canova was born in Possagno in 1757 but he soon moved to Venice where he completed his first studies. In 1779 he then settled in Rome where he remained for the rest of his life. Canova becomes Napoleon’s official sculptor, his commissions are characterized by refined aestheticism, sensual accents and nostalgic mythological re-enactment.

Among his many famous works, Amore e Psiche is undoubtedly one of his best-known masterpieces. Despite some initial criticism, which considered the sculptural group excessively extravagant and baroque, the work perfectly responds to the principles of the aesthetics of Neoclassicism.

The gestures of the protagonists are delicate and sensual and the movements in the space are balanced. Likewise, love transport is not excessive and love becomes contemplative.

Pompeo Marchesi

Pompeo Marchesi was also one of the exponents of neoclassicism, especially Lombard neoclassicism. The sculptor, son of Carlo Gerolamo, at a very young age follows his father in Milan and begins his studies at the Accademia di Bella Arti inBrera with the sculptor Giuseppe Franchi.

He then moved to Rome where he attended sculpture courses at the Accademia Romana, under the direction of Antonio Canova. He then returned to Milan where he worked for the Duomo construction under the direction of Carlo Amati.

In 1813 he was called to collaborate on the decorative apparatus of the Simplon Arch, today Arch of Peace and in 1816 he receives the commission of the decorative apparatus of the cathedral of Como. Pompeo Marchesi collaborates with Canova for the Cenotaph of Giuseppe Bossi at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

Below is a work by the sculptor present at Antichità Giglio.

Pompeo Marchesi “Busto virile”
Marble sculpture

Antichità Giglio is in Milan a reference point in the evaluation, purchase and sale of ancient and modern sculptures . We are interested in buying marble sculptures. To sell sculptures in your possession send us photos via Whatsapp at 335 63.79.151 or by e-mail at For any information please contact us at 02

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