19th and 20th Century Sculpture

19th and 20th Century Sculpture

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 44. ACHILLE CANESSA | TORCHBEARER.


Auction Closed

December 11, 11:50 AM GMT


60,000 - 80,000 GBP

Lot Details






signed: A. CANESSA

white marble, on a grey marble column

marble: 182cm., 71⅝in.

column: 77cm., 30¼in.

Achille Canessa, born in Genoa, was active in his native province Liguria for most of his life. Having executed a monument for Garibaldi in 1885, he established a reputation as a talented funerary sculptor. His elaborate grave monuments can still be found across the region, including on the Staglieno cemetery in Genoa and the Zinola cemetery in Savona. His tomb of Vincenzo Aonzo in Savona is particularly noteworthy, displaying the sculptor's talent in creating complicated poses and swirling drapery (op. cit., pp. 286-287). Although Canessa's grave monuments found particular favour with the local community in Liguria, making him an exceedingly popular local sculptor (Sborgi, op. cit., pp. 380-382, lists over 120 works by Canessa, mostly at the Staglieno cemetery), he also exhibited internationally, most notably at the International Exhibition in Chicago. The work exhibited was a marble monument to Christopher Columbus, which was commissioned for the town of San Juan in Puerto Rico (another version of the statue is in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore). Canessa travelled to San Juan to oversee the completion and installation of the work, and stayed until its inauguration.  

The present lifesize figure, possibly an allegory, shows an elegant woman clothed in ample drapery, holding a torch. The figure, with its realistic facial features and hair parted at the centre of the forehead, is reminiscent of the impressive figures on the Aonzo monument in Savona. Marbles by Achille Canessa are rare on the market, making the sale of this Torchbearer a rare opportunity to acquire a lifesize marble by the sculptor. 


V. Vicario, Gli Scultori Italiani, dal Neoclassicismo al Liberty, Vol. I., Lodi, 1994, p. 239; F. Sborgi, Staglieno e la Scultura Funeraria Ligure tra Ottocento e Novecento, Turin, 1997