CANOVA BUST OF PEACE
Letters and other entries
Canova to Quatremère de Quincy, 17 August 1814 published in A. Canova and Quatremère de Quincy, Canova et ses ouvrages… Paris, 1834, p. 389; see also G. Cunial, M. Pavan and M. Guderzo, Antonio Canova: Museum and Gipsoteca, Possagno, 2009, p. 252: Canova mentions the completion of the marble ‘statue of Peace’ which logically must refer to the present bust since Lord Cawdor had seen Canova ‘working on the Peace’ on 25 January 1815 (Carmarthenshire Record Office: Cawdor box 244: Lord Cawdor’s travel journal, October 1814-July 1815). Canova subsequently wrote to Graf Gustav Ernst von Stackelberg (1766-1850), Russian Ambassador to Vienna, on 19 May 1815, announcing the completion of the full figure marble statue, see I. Artemieva, La Pace di Antonio Canova, in G. Pavanello (ed.), S. Androsov, I. Artemieva and M. Guderzo, Antonio Canova. Disegni e dipinti del Museo Civico di Bassano del Grappa e della Gipsoteca di Possagno presentati all’Ermitage, Milan, 2001, pp. 65-66;
Cawdor to Canova, 29 March 1815, unpublished, Museo Civico Bassano del Grappa, Manoscritti Canovani III 254/2601: Cawdor discusses the transportation of the Bust of Peace and the Hebe to London;
Cawdor to Canova, Castle Howard, Yorkshire, 20 December 1815, unpublished, Museo Civico Bassano del Grappa, Manoscritti Canovani III 254 / 2595: Cawdor asks further questions regarding the delivery of the Hebe and the Bust of Peace to London;
Canova to Cawdor, Rome, 6 March 1816, published in H. Honour (ed.), Epistolario (1816-1817), Salerno, 2003, pp. 127-128, no. 108: Canova outlines that he is awaiting the arrival of the English ship which will transport the Hebe, the Bust of Peace, a portrait and prints. Canova then announces that he has dedicated a print of Venus Victrix to Cawdor;
Canova to Cawdor, Rome, 8 July 1816, published in H. Honour (ed.), Epistolario (1816-1817), Salerno, 2003, p. 322, no. 295: Canova confirms that the ship Abundantia, having delivered Roman statues taken to Paris by Napoleon, has been loaded with the Hebe, the Bust of Peace, and a crate of books, together with many gesso works which have been sent to the British Government from the Pope. Canova laments that a slight darkening has appeared on the upper lip of the Peace, which he says has spoiled the gentle expression. He begs Cawdor’s apology;
Canova to Cawdor, Rome, 13 July 1816, published in H. Honour (ed.), Epistolario (1816-1817), Salerno, 2003, pp. 323-324, no. 297: Canova confirms the details given in the letter of 8 July 1816, and adds that he has added a statue of a Nymph which had been commissioned by Cawdor but is destined for the Prince Regent, Cawdor having relinquished his claim;
Cawdor to Canova, Longleat, Wiltshire, 10 September 1816, Museo Civico Bassano del Grappa, Manoscritti Canovani III 254 / 2596; published in H. Honour (ed.), Epistolario (1816-1817), Salerno, 2003, pp. p. 429, no. 377: Effusive, Cawdor says that he waits impatiently for the arrival of the Hebe and the Bust of Peace;
Cawdor to Canova, London, 13 June 1817, Museo Civico Bassano del Grappa, Manoscritti Canovani III 254/2597; published in H. Honour (ed.), Epistolario (1816-1817), Salerno, 2003, pp. 856-858: Cawdor describes the Royal Academy exhibition. He says that the Hebe met with universal admiration. However, he laments the placement of the Bust of Peace, on a site with poor light. He says that neither of the best sites in the room are good for sculpture.
Ledger of Sir Francis Chantrey, 130: Chantrey records the packing and transporting of Peace from the RA to Lord Cawdor at a cost of 7s 9d.
John Campbell, Lord Cawdor, was Canova’s earliest British patron. He commissioned the Amorino (National Trust, Anglesey Abbey, inv. no. NT 516599) and the celebrated Cupid and Psyche (Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. MR1777), both in 1787, and, in correspondence from that same year, Canova describes a bond of friendship between the two men beyond that of any other patron.
Cawdor visited Canova in Rome in late 1814 and early 1815, at which time the sculptor is likely to have been formulating his plans to repatriate Rome’s great antiquities and paintings which had been confiscated by Napoleon’s armies and installed in the Louvre. Following Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo in June 1815, Canova was dispatched to Paris by Pope Pius VII with the task of negotiating the return of these artworks. He was followed by Cawdor in September 1815 and, on 9 September 1815, the two men met with Charles Long, art adviser to the Prince Regent, and Richard William Hamilton, Under-Secretary of State to Lord Castlereagh, the British Foreign Secretary. There can be little doubt that they discussed Canova’s mission for, the next day, and despite considerable resistance from Talleyrand and Vivant Denon, Director of the Musée Royale at the Louvre, Canova put his case to King Louis XVIII. Shortly afterwards, with the backing of the Duke of Wellington and the Prince Regent, an agreement was reached for the artworks to be returned to Rome.
Canova appears to have developed the concept of Ideal Heads (Teste ideali) with the specific purpose of gifting them to friends and patrons who had helped him in particular ways. He gave his first such bust, the Helen, conceived in 1811, to Countess Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi in 1812 (Palazzo Albrizzi, Venice), and another, the Clio, also executed 1811, to Luise Stolberg, Countess of Albany, who had commissioned Canova to execute the tomb of the poet Vittorio Alfieri (Musée Fabre, Montpellier). The Canova authority Hugh Honour has noted that, ‘None of them were commissioned - most unusually for Canova - and he took advantage of the opportunity to escape from the restrictions of portraiture or of mythological and historical subject-matter to realise his elusive aesthetic ideal’ (Honour, 1995, op. cit.).
As with the other Ideal Heads, the Bust of Peace must likewise have been presented as a gift by Canova to his friend. Lord Cawdor had been a steadfast patron throughout Canova's career and, despite the interval of the Napoleonic wars, had proven to be one of the sculptor's champions in Britain. He visited Canova's studio with the Duke of Bedford, at which time the Three Graces was commissioned (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, inv. no. A.4-1994; NGS, Edinburgh, inv. no. NG 2626), and later facilitated Canova's meeting with the Prince Regent. As is discussed below, Cawdor may also have been involved in securing the restitution of looted artworks to Rome. John Davies has confirmed that, 'amongst all other payments from Cawdor, there is no record at all of negotiation or payment for the Bust of Peace' (private correspondence). Moreover, the Bust of Peace was completed in 1814. Cawdor arrived in Rome only at the close of that year (he visited Canova's studio on 26 December 1814) and so could never have commissioned the bust. The fact that the sculptor apologises for a flaw in the marble in his letter of 8 July 1816 further goes to support the inevitable conclusion that the marble was presented gratis and not as a commission.
Canova’s Ideal Heads enshrine the sculptor’s idea of facial perfection. Informed by nature, they are removed from the idiosyncrasies of portraiture and guided by Classical principles. Carved in a state of amore caldissimo, the Ideal Heads transcend the corporeal and present a vision of universal beauty inspired by Canova’s unique genius. The remarkable, almost ethereal, quality of the finished heads can be attributed to Canova’s superb surface finish. This, however, appears to have been achieved solely by virtue of the sculptor’s skill as a marble carver, since he told Cawdor in March 1817 that ‘some believe that I use a sort of encaustic paint on the marble of my finished sculpture, but of which crime I can no longer - for many years - be accused of. I challenge you to look and examine again the two statues of Hebe and Terpsichore, which were not treated with any wash, except that I passed over them a brush soaked in sandy water, which can be removed and washed off simply with a sponge’ (Canova to Cawdor 27 March 1817, published in Honour, Epistolario, op. cit., p. 219).
The Ideal Heads can be broadly divided into three main subjects: mythological (including: Helen; A Vestal; the Muses Clio, Callipe and Erato); historical or literary figures (including: Lucrezia d’Este; Laura; Beatrice; Sappho); and personifications (including: Peace; Gratitude; Philosophy). A fourth group exists of busts lacking identities.
Canova’s Bust of Peace symbolises the epoch. Presented by the artist to his friend and earliest British patron within months of Napoleon’s downfall, it represents, by virtue of its subject, the peace brought about by the Great Powers. Categorised as an Ideal Head by Missirini as early as 1824, and subsequently by Hugh Honour (private correspondence), the Bust of Peace has an added significance within the group, since it was the first Ideal Head to be presented to a British patron following Napoleon’s defeat. Cawdor’s meetings with Canova in Paris, alongside Hamilton and Long, further indicate that the bust may have given to his friend not merely for his loyalty as a patron but in thanks for his support in the campaign to restitute the confiscated artworks of the Papal States. In the very least the Bust of Peace, which was the first Ideal Head to arrive in Britain, is representative of Canova’s gratitude, as Pope Pius VII's Plenipotentiary Minister, to the British for their role, alongside Russia and Prussia, in defeating Napoleon.
Subsequently, in 1818, the four British dignitaries also present in Paris in the autumn of 1815, and who were instrumental in garnering support amongst the Great Powers for the restitution, were each presented with an Ideal Head by Canova. The Duke of Wellington received the Head of a Dancer (Apsley House, London) derived from the full figure Danzatrice con le mani sui franchi commissioned by Josephine Beauharnais circa 1802, completed 1811-12, later acquired by Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and now in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg; Viscount Castlereagh was gifted a Bust of Helen (Londonderry collection) after the aforementioned 1811 model given to Countess Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi; William Richard Hamilton was given an Ideal Head (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, inv. no. WA1996.395) of the type alternately identified as Clio or Calliope first conceived as Clio for the Countess of Albany in 1811; and Sir Charles Long was sent an Ideal Head (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, inv. no. AP 1981.13) probably derived from the head of the Seated Muse Polymnia, which had originally been commissioned as Concorde by Elisa Baciocchi Bonaparte (Eustace suggests that the bust may be a portrait of Caroline Murat, op. cit., p. 81).
Three of the busts were first recorded in the Notizie del Giorno, 24 September 1818, shortly after their arrival in England: ‘tre teste di donne di squisto lavoro, una al duca di Wellington, altra a lord Castlereagh, ed altra all’onorevole Charles Longh’ (as quoted in Eustace, op. cit., p. 66). Eustace has noted that Pius VII, in a letter to the Duke of Wellington, had promised to show his thanks for Britain’s role in the return of looted artworks, and has concluded that the busts may have been intended as official or semi-official gifts (op. cit., p. 66).
Canova’s Ideal Heads caused a stir when they arrived in Britain. Charles Long was unrestrained in his enthusiasm and gratitude for the gift. In October 1818 he wrote to Canova:
Je n’attenderai plus long temps de vous remercier pour le Cade[au] que vous avez eu la bonté de m’envoyer - elle est tout a fait gracieuse et elegante - tous les Connoisseurs, (et beaucoup l’ont vu) l’amire extremement, et la trouvent parmi les plus jolies de vos ouvrages. je ne sais pas comment vous ... faire assez mes remerciments, pour avoir destiné cette ouvrage pourmoi mais je vous prie bien de croire qu’il n’y a personne qui sait mieux l’apprecier ...
(Charles Long, Whitehall, 6 October 1818, as quoted in Eustace, op. cit., p. 82).
Remarkably, the progenitor of Castlereagh’s Helen, the aforementioned bust presented to Countess Albrizzi in 1811, was the subject of a poem by Lord Byron, whose eloquent lines convey the intrinsic timelessness Canova’s Ideal Heads:
In this belovèd marble view
Above the works and thoughts of Man,
What Nature could but would not, do,
And beauty and Canova can!
Beyond Imagination’s power,
Beyond the Bard’s defeated art,
With Immortality her dower,
Behold the Helen of the heart
George Gordon, Lord Byron, On the Bust of Helen by Canova, 1816
Recently, the original final plaster version of the Bust of Peace was discovered in the Museo civico, Bassano del Grappa, by Prof. Mario Guderzo, Director of the Museo Canova and Gipsoteca canoviana in Possagno. The pointed plaster bust was donated to the museum by Canova’s half brother Abbate Giambattista Sartori-Canova (1775-1858). Two further plasters of the model were listed in Canova's studio after his death, one of which is lost, the other destroyed. A further untraced plaster bust was cast by Canova and presented to the wife of Richard Long, Amelia Hume, in 1817 (1762-1837) (see letter between Canova and Cawdor, 6 September 1817, published in Honour, Epistolario, op cit., pp. 127-128). The accounts of the plasterer Vincenzo Malpieri dating to 6 September 1817 show that the cast of the Bust of Peace cost 7,20 scudi, substantially more than casts of Hamilton’s ‘Muse’ at 4,20 scudi, Wellington’s ‘Ballerina’ at 3,60 scudi and Castlereagh’s 'Elena di parigi' at a mere 2,40 scudi; the price differential is not explained (see accounts of Vincenzo Malpieri published in Honour, Epistolario, op cit., p. 1191).
Count Nikolai P. Rumyantsev and the Commission of the Statue of Peace
Canova had first been approached to sculpt a statue of Peace by the Russian Foreign Minister and Chancellor Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev (Romansov) (1754-1826) in 1811 (although he had developed the concept as early as 1805; see Praz, op. cit., p. 123). The Romanzov family had a long and distinguished history as peacemakers. Count Nikolai’s father, the great military commander Pyotr Alexandrovich Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky (1725-1796), had forced the Ottoman Sultan to sue for peace during the First Russo-Turkish War in 1774, whilst his grandfather Count Alexander Ivanovich Rumyantsev had concluded the Treaty of Abo in 1743, ending the Russo- Swedish War of 1741-1743.
A Francophile and a Russian patriot, Count Nikolai Rumyantsev was a supporter of the Treaty of Tilsit on 7 July 1807, which established peace between Russia and France, and, in 1808, he concluded the peace which bound Swedish Finland to Russia. In 1809 he had made a peace proposal with Britain to avoid war. His commission for a statue of peace in 1811 was intended to serve as a memorial to his family’s role as peacemakers in Europe. It came at a time when Canova’s reputation in Russia was approaching its zenith. The sculptor was even offered to relocate to Russia, but he declined, saying ‘Italy...is my country - is the country and native soil of the arts’ (Memes, op. cit., pp. 468-478).
A terracotta bozzetto exists for the Statue of Peace in the National Gallery of Scotland (Clifford, et al., op. cit., no. 24). Interestingly, having been gifted by Canova to his friend Mary Berry, circa 1820-1821, this entered the collection of the Earls of Carlisle at Castle Howard in 1853, the family of Lord Cawdor’s wife Caroline Isabella. An early unfired clay bozzetto of different composition exists at Possagno (inv. no. 225), together with two plaster bozzetti thought to date to circa 1811 which broadly show the final composition (inv. nos. 227 and 228). The large scale finished plaster shows the pointing markers used for the execution of the marble and is incised: Finita in 7bre 1812 (this dating further indicates that Canova was referring to the present bust in his letter to Quatremère de Quincy on 17 August 1814 when he confirms completion of the Statue of Peace).
Due to the hostilities between Russia and the French Empire in the intervening period, the Statue of Peace was only finished in 1815, and delivered to Saint Petersburg in November 1816. The statue is now in the Varvara and Bogdan Chanenko Museum, Kiev (inv. no. 204). Canova’s student Demut-Malinovskiy (1776-1846) cast a bronze version of the statue entitled: Monument to Ecaterine II in 1834, now in the Shchusev Museum of Architecture, Moscow. A further cast was made for the funerary monument to Count Nikolai Rumyantsev, who sadly fell out of favour with the Tsar towards the end of his life (now Petrikov Ethnographic Museum, Gomel; see Grabar, op. cit., p. 241).
Swathed in classical drapery, Peace is supported by a truncated column onto which is inscribed the names of the peace treaties secured by the Rumyantsev family. She is winged, crowned with a diadem, holds a staff in one hand, and, with her right leg, tramples upon the serpent of war. According to Canova, the composition is derived from a Claudian medal (Cicognara, op. cit., pp. 227-229). The head of Peace is stylistically and compositionally very close to the head of La Concordia (Galleria Nazionale, Parma), which had been conceived circa 1809-1814 as a portrait of the Empress Marie-Louise (Clifford, et al, op. cit., no. 23). Significantly, the present Bust of Peace of 1814 predates the completion of the full figure marble, completed in 1815.
When Count Rumyantsev’s full figure Statue of Peace arrived in Saint Petersburg in 1816, it must surely have symbolised Russia’s role in bestowing peace upon the war torn European continent. Entering Paris on 30 March 1814, the Tsar Alexander I had declared: ‘I come to bring you peace and commerce’.
After Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 Rumyantsev had continued to push for peace and Napoleon expected to negotiate peace after the Battle of Borodino in October 1812, but Alexandre I was silent; Moscow fell to the French only weeks afterwards. Alexander I is quoted as saying 'The Army underrated Rumanzev [sic] who does not advise submission to Napoleon, and I greatly respect him' (Joyntville, op. cit., p. 185). In 1812 Ataman Platov said that 'Rumanzev [sic] would prove an enemy of his country and a servant of France' (Joynville, op. cit., p. 185). Russia allied herself with Britain in 1812, and the Tsar travelled to London in 1814. Upon his return, on 14 July 1814, he accepted the resignation of Rumyantsev.
Aside from disagreements with the Tsar on Russia's diplomatic strategy, Rumyantsev's failing health had proven to be a handicap and it was one of the reasons why he did not accompany Alexander I to the Congress of Vienna. Affairs of State aside, the Tsar and Rumyantsev were bound together by their shared literary and scientific tastes. A progressive, Rumyantsev sought to promote education amongst the wider Russian population. He gave up all the presents he received from foreign princes for the benefit of the wounded, and he refused to accept the pension Alexander I had assigned to him. His philanthropy allowed the publication of the Russian "Codex Deplomaticus" printed in Moscow in 1813, as well as a Russian translation of the "History of the Mongols and Tartars" in 1814. In 1817-18, he made several journeys to collect historical manuscripts. He formed a museum of oriental medals and coins and he made financial donations to the Academy of Sciences to print and publish ancient Russian records (see Joynville, op. cit., pp.110-113).
Canova's Bust of Peace: An Exceptional Marble
Autograph marbles by Antonio Canova are extremely rare at auction. Canova was the ultimate master of marble carving, his works form the cornerstones of the most important European sculpture collections around the world, from the Louvre to the Hermitage, from Chatsworth to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The rediscovered Bust of Peace is a work of unique beauty and seminal importance within Canova's corpus of busts. Symbolic of peace, she represents the end of the Napoleonic era and the artist's sense of optimism at the burgeoning new age of European politics. Her remarkable history, given to the sculptor's earliest British patron and one of his closest friends, exhibited at the Royal Academy and then lost from the public eye for over two hundred years, is as poetic as the marble is beautiful. The sale of the Bust of Peace represents a unique opportunity to acquire one of the finest and last Ideal Heads in private hands.
Canova's Bust of Peace is discussed in two essays, respectively by Professor Mario Guderzo, Director of the Museo Canova and Gipsoteca Canoviana, Possagno, and Dr John Davies, Former Head of the Carmarthenshire Archives Service at the Welsh National Archives. Dr Davies is the author of the forthcoming volume: 'Changing Fortunes: The Cawdors, a British aristocratic family, 1689-1976.' These essays are available upon request. Summaries of the essays can be found below:
Queen of the World: Peace by Antonio Canova for Lord Cawdor
Professor Mario Guderzo
The genesis for Canova's Bust of Peace lies in Count Nikolai Rumyantsev's commission for a Statue of Peace to commemorate treaties signed by himself, his father and grandfather. The Bust of Peace dates to 1814. Canova used his characteristic method to create the bust. Three plaster versions of the Bust of Peace are recorded. One at the Museo di Bassano, a second at the Gipsoteca in Possagno (severely damaged) and a third (lost). Guderzo then outlines Canova's method: conceiving his models in clay and then casting them in plaster, before executing the marble. A glossary in order of the process is provided, outlining Canova's sculptural practice. The first stage was drawing, followed by a clay bozzetto, followed by the plaster cast, followed by a clay model of actual size. A plaster mould was taken, the clay would be destroyed, and a plaster model to actual size cast. Pointing markers would thence be added, from which the marble would be roughed out to scale by a highly experienced artisan. Canova would intervene at the final stage, elevating the marble to a state of 'exquisite perfection' according to Cicognara. Guderzo discusses Canova's brother's donation to the Museo di Bassano and the place of the plaster model of the Bust of Peace within this important collection.
John Campbell, First Baron Cawdor (1755-1821): Patron, Collector and Connoisseur
Dr John E. Davies
Cawdor Castle was the principal seat of the Campbell's of Cawdor until 1689, at which time Stackpole Court in Pembrokeshire was added their estates through marriage. John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor was one of the largest British landowners and an Italophile who visited Italy on several occasions. His art dealer Henry Tresham probably introduced Campbell to Canova in 1787, with whom he struck a strong and lifelong friendship. Campbell commissioned the Amorino from Canova in 1787 and the Cupid and Psyche two years later. Campbell married Caroline Howard, daughter of the 5th Earl of Carlisle in 1790 and leased a house on Oxford Street where he amassed an antiquities collection. The house and contents were sold due to financial worries in 1800. In 1814 Campbell travelled to Rome, dining with Canova daily, including on Christmas day. In 1815 he records seeing Canova working on the Hebe and Statue of Peace (Rumyantsev's full size marble) in his studio. He arrived in Paris on 6 September 1816 and met with Canova who was lobbying to secure the return of Italian artworks looted by Napoleon. Canova gifted the Bust of Peace to Cawdor in gratitude for his support in this task and his long term patronage. Ideal Heads were later gifted to Charles Long, Castlereagh, William Hamilton and the Duke of Wellington. Campbell moved at the highest levels in British society, though his collecting habits were curtailed by financial restraints. Stackpole was demolished in 1962 subsequent to the sale of its contents, including the Bust of Peace.
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