Antonio Canova's Plaster Cast Gallery in Possagno.
Since 2007 and the celebrations staged to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of the artist, any number of exhibitions have been held in honor of the great neoclassical sculptor, Antonio Canova.
Nothing, however, can compare with that which awaits visitors at the gallery and museum located in Possagno, the Canova Gipsoteca.
Canova was born in Possagno, a hillside town in the province of Treviso, and he often returned to the town to seek refuge after journeys across Europe, and the long periods spent in Rome
Following Canova's death, his half-brother and only heir, Monsignor Giovanni Battista Sartori, decided to close the studios in Rome, where many of Canova's masterpieces had been realized, and transfer the numerous plaster casts, sketches, oil paintings and unsold statues from the capital city to Possagno.
In order to house the significant quantity of material, Sartori commissioned the Venetian architect, Francesco Lazzari, to build a gallery in the gardens of the artist's native home.
The resulting Gipsoteca is an imposing work of architecture; its high vaulted ceilings and apse not unlike those of a basilica. From the three windows in the roof, light falls onto the statues below, amongst which Canova's Hercules and Lycus, (a plaster cast of the marble statue housed in Rome's Museum of Modern Art), reigns supreme.
The display of silent white bodies, interrupted only by the red of the marble paving tiles, is almost eerie and the effect produced by such a concentration of Canova's masterpieces verges on the overpowering
In 1957, a new wing of the Gipsoteca was built by the architect Carlo Scarpa, who gave particular emphasis to the relationship between the (natural) light and the works displayed.
The temple on the hill
After touring the house and the garden, which Canova personally renovated, and climbing up to the Painting Studio, situated in the turret, the visit to Possagno concludes with a trip to the Temple on the hill, another of Canova's creations and one which, once again, pays homage to the artist's neoclassical ideals: inspired by the Parthenon in Athens, the Pantheon in Rome, and the early Christian basilicas.
Museo e Gipsoteca Antonio Canova
Via Canova, 84
Opening hours: 09.30 - 18.00 (closed on Mondays)