'Vedi ben quanta in lei dolcezza piove' (Petrarch)
William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, purchased Canova's bust of Laura in 1819 (inscribed OPVS CANOVAE and LAVRA), together with a bust of Beatrice (Chatsworth House). Quatremère de Quincy (1834) mentions another pairing of the Laura and Beatrice for Count Rasponi de Ravenna (untraced) and another replica of the Laura in the collection of Mario Praz, Rome, since 1938. Cristino Rasponi was a revolutionary who caused considerable trouble for the Papacy in the Romagna and opposed Metternich's interventionist policies in Italy (see following lot).
Laura's beauty inspired Petrarch to perfect the Sonnet and for her he wrote the Canzoniere. Already being married, she turned down all the advances he made toward her. Count Cicognara wrote that in Canova's bust 'poetry and sculpture have thus combined their noblest efforts to preserve the fame of Laura, and to transmit the memory of her charms and excellencies to posterity'.
The present sensitively carved replica may have been produced in Canova's workshop, or by a follower such as Leopoldo Vanelli or Francesco Righetti Junior.
Praz & Pavanello, pp.126-27, no.291; p.133, no.346;
Count Cicognara, The Works of Antonio in Sculpture and Modelling, London 1849 (engraving by Henry Moses)
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