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Antonio Canova
Funerary Monument to Vittorio Alfieri

1807
Plaster

Location
Gypsotheca, Nineteenth century wing

In 1804, following the death of poet and playwright Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803), Countess of Albany, Louise Stolberg, his last partner and heir, commissioned Canova with a monument in his memory. The artist, that wanted to celebrate the poet’s free enlightened spirit that made him stand up to the tyrannic power of his time, initially suggested a more than 3 meters tall stele, with a crying figure on Alfieri’s chest and two winged geniuses on the sides. However, the Countess, for the ten thousand scudi she spent, was not satisfied. For the same amount she wanted a whole monument with one or two statues that needed to be displayed in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. After an intense exchange of letters and several plastic and graphic elaborations, Canova designed a whole new model for the sepulcher. Three years later, in September 1810, the monument was solemnly inaugurated in Florence and it received enthusiastic reviews. On top of an oval basement and surmounted by an additional large step decorated with garlands and dedicatory epigraph, stands the sarcophagus with on the front the poet’s profile engraved on a medallion with the inscription “Vicorivs Alferivs Astensis”. A majestic feminine figure draped in a wide soft ancient garmen, and with a turreted crown on her head stands on the right of the sarcophagus. The sorrowful figure is an allegory for Italy, that mourns the loss of one of its beloved sons. This personification is the result of the sculptor’s elaborate and relentless graphic exercises that gave the monument a more intense and significative meaning.

● Inventory Number
148

● Dimensions
310x240x95 cm

● Ownership
Fondazione Canova onlus, Possagno (TV)

● Marble
Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence (IT)

● Other plaster versions
Civic Museum, Bassano del Grappa (IT)
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome (IT)