The Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato (IPZS) has released the latest gold and silver coins which are part of their ongoing series entitled “Genius of Italian Art,“ focusing on some of the most renowned Italian artists. Following on from the coins honouring da Vinci, Raffaello, and Caravaggio, the fourth coin focuses on the exceptional talent of Antonio Canova (1757–1822), of which 2022 is also the bicentenary anniversary of his death. Despite the political turbulence of the period, including the French invasions of Italy and the establishment of the Napoleonic Empire, Canova successfully continued to work for a wide range of patrons. These included Napoleon himself and the Bonaparte family. His bust of Napoleon became one of the most widely regarded and reproduced portraits of the Emperor. After the French Empire collapsed in 1815, travel and trade resumed in full force across the continent, which enabled Canova to accept a number of commissions from British patrons.
Canova’s Only American Commission
The Senate of North Carolina unanimously resolved in 1815 to commission a full-length statue of Washington, and, with the assistance and recommendation of Thomas Jefferson, it was decided that Canova should be the sculptor. The American consul in Italy handled the negotiations, and Jefferson recommended that Canova use the marble bust of Washington by Giuseppe Ceracchi as a model for the head; it was the consul’s own plaster copy which was sent to Canova in Rome. He began work on the statue in 1817, which was completed in 1820, well in time for North Carolina’s governor to send a United States Navy vessel to transport it from Italy. Fittingly, it was the USS Columbus which delivered it to Boston in July 1821, the statue ultimately arriving in Raleigh, North Carolina, in December, where it was installed in the rotunda of the state house. Sadly, the only work commissioned by Canova in the United States was destroyed in June 1831 when the Senate building caught fire and both were lost. The last work Canova designed was the new parish church for his native town, Possagno, in the province of Treviso. Known as the Tempio, the style was a mixture of the Roman Pantheon and Athenian Parthenon; the church itself brought together classical architectural features in the celebration of Christ. Unfortunately, he died in 1822 before the works were completed and was interred in the Tempio. His heart was interred at the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, and his right hand was preserved in a vase at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. Before he died, he willed part of his estate for the Tempio’s completion.
Designed by IPZS artisan Uliana Pernazza, the obverse and reverse motifs are shared on both the gold and silver coins. Depicted on the obverse is the bust of Antonio Canova flanked by the Canova coat of arms, which includes elements of the Marquisate of Ischia di Castro del Lazio. Both are exhibited on his tomb inside the Canovian Tempio of Possagno, Treviso. The inscription REPUBBLICA ITALIANA is placed along the left edge, with the name of the artist U. PERNAZZA seen just to the right of the bust.
The reverse depicts a fine detail of the marble statue Venere Italica by Antonio Canova and which is on view in the Palatine Gallery in Florence. To the right of the sculpture is the value 20 EURO (gold) or 5 EURO (silver), and the letter R, identifying the Mint of Rome. On the left side are the years 1822 and 2022 shown vertically, which represent Canova’s death and the issue of the coin, along with the inscription ANTONIO CANOVA along the edge.
|18 g||32 mm||Proof||
|6.45 g||21 mm||Proof||
Each coin is encapsulated and presented in an IPZS custom case accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. For additional information, please click here for the silver coin or here for the gold coin.
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