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The Fundraising Campaign
Canova a Piece of (He)Art

A new ambitious project for the Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova: a fundraising campaign aimed at the acquisition of Giorgione’s Self-Portrait by Canova.

The success of the campaign will allow us to:

  • make the painting available to everyone. Now owned by a private gallery, we aim to make it public and exhibit it in the artist’s Birth House along with the other paintings that he realized throughout his career;
  • enrich the museum’s heritage. The museum is the heart of Canova’s historical and artistic memory, and we wish to welcome this painting home;
  • contextualize the painting in Canova’s artistic journey. The painting represents a never seen before side of Canova, and its addition would allow everyone to experience it.

The museum believes this campaign to be particularly relevant under societal, historical, and artistic values. For this reason, in addition to public and private institutions, the museum will involve entrepreneurs and single donors.

For generous donations, the Museum has implemented a series of rewards/benefits that both single and corporate donors can take advantage of. For more information on the matter, you can visit our website or contact the indicated representatives (all information can be found on the last page).

In addition to these, donors will be able to take advantage of tax benefits and incentives for donations made towards art and culture organizations available in their country.

Behind the painting

The self-portrait is a painting by the renowned neoclassical sculptor Canova that depicts Giorgione, a venetian master of the 16thcentury. The artist was able to infer his physiognomic features from Le vite di Vasari (1568) and Le Maraviglie dell’arte di Ridolfi (1648).

Once he completed the painting, the artist gifted it to Abbondio Rezzonico, Roman senator and Canova’s close friend, with the sole condition of passing it off as if it were painted by Giorgione. To see this through the two friends organized a banquet in the senator’s Roman palace and invited several esteemed guests; including artists, scholars, and art experts. Upon their arrival the painting depicting Giorgione’s self-portrait was unveiled, and they spent the entire lunch praising the art piece and mastery of the color, without ever doubting its authenticity.

Later, when they reached the time for coffee, Canova joined them and was embraced in their conversations on the discovery of this outstanding piece of art. More than a year went by before the two came clean on their hoax, and from what is testified by a page in “Memoirs of Antonio Canova” written by Smythe Memes in 1825, they found great delight in the whole matter.

To further enhance the credibility of their hoax, Canova used a panel from the 16th century, where there had been previously depicted a sacred family, and kept its original roman golden frame.

As is evident, the painting, in addition to having a high artistic value, carries with it an interesting and peculiar story that reveals a less known ironic side to our artist.