A very fine Neo-classical white marble figure of Venus Italica, after Antonio Canova (1757-1822), on a circular base inscribed to the back, Galleria Romanelli Firenze
Italian, date circa 1880
Height 174 cm.
Canova was commissioned to execute the original version of the Venus Italica at the suggestion of Ludovico I, King of Etruria, as a replacement for the antique statue of the Medici Venus which had been plundered by the French in 1802. Although Canova was initially reluctant to accept the commission he was soon persuaded by the challenge to surpass one of the great masterpieces from Antiquity. From the moment it was unveiled, Canova's Venus was an unparalleled success, he subsequently made a number of versions, examples of which were purchased by the Marquess of Lansdowne, the Marquess of Londonderry and Napoleon's brother Lucien, Prince of Canino.
The Galleria Romanelli in Florence retailed the present marble. Although a celebrated sculptor in his own right, with a number of important commissions to his name, Pasquale Romanelli (d.1887) was probably the retailer rather than the sculptor of this figure. To satisfy the demands of a healthy export market, especially in England, a small number of late nineteenth century sculptors, notably Romanelli as well as Pietro Barzanti, established galleries to retail high quality copies of antique and Neo-classical sculpture.