Exhibition halls, Pietro Canonica Museum

Pietro Canonica, an internationally renowned sculptor, music lover and composer himself, trained in Turin in the late nineteenth century, and then stayed for a long time in the courts of Europe where the aristocracy commissioned him to portray celebratory portraits and monuments.

He moved to Rome in 1922 and since 1927 he lives in the building that now houses the museum which, therefore, offers an image of the artist in his entirety, human and professional.

Room 1
Here the exhibition begins, the room showcases some of the artist’s most beautiful marbles, mainly portraits, a genre in which Canonica excelled and to which the fame of a refined interpreter of the psychology of the characters represented is linked.

Female characters, often of noble rank, that the artist portrayed in their smooth beauty, carefully studying their physical traits and capturing every psychological nuance of their character.

Inside the room there are also two allegorical works, Sogno di Primavera and Stella in the morning, works in which Canonica combined an intense expressive research with the naturalistic notations of the liberty movement.

In this room are exposed:
After the vow, sculpture of 1893, it is in plaster, it is a copy of the original whose location is unknown.
Le comunicande, sculpture fromaround 1920, copy of the original site in Palermo, is in marble, at the modern art gallery.
Franca Florio woman, bust of 1900 – 1904.
Particular of After the Vow, it is in marble, the location of the original is unknown.
Princess Emily Doria Pamphili, bust around 1920, is in white marble placed on a bardiglio base, a copy of the original located at the Doria Pamphilij Gallery.
Spring dream, bust around 1920, marble copy of the 1898 originallocated in the civic museum of Trieste.
Stella in the morning, sculpture from around 1925, the sculpture depicts a nude woman with a lamb behind her.

Room 2
It mainly includes celebratory portraits and works related to the Russian imperial family, in the pre-revolutionary era, and funerary monuments commissioned by important Italian families.

The affirmation of Canonica as a portraitist and author of monumental works was consolidated at the court of the Tsars, making for Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, numerous portraits of members of the imperial family and exponents of the Russian nobility. The Tsar also commissioned two great celebratory works from the artist: the monument to Grand Duke Nicola Nicolajevich and the monument to Tsar Alexander II. Both of these works were destroyed in the years of the Revolution and evidence of this remains only thanks to the two large original models on display in this room and the historical photos kept in the Museum Archive.

The funeral works, Laura Vigo, the Raffica and the Orfanella, are perhaps among the most intense works of the artist.

In this room there are works related to the family of the czar of Russia including the main one is:
Located in the center of the room is the equestrian bronze depicting Nicola Nicolajevic, a 1912 sculpture. This is a copy of the original site in Manejnaja square in St. Petersburg and destroyed in 1917.
Other works include the following three funeral monuments:
La Raffica – Funerary monument for Mrs. Giulia Schenabl Rossi, sculpture from 1924, is in plaster, model for the funerary complex of the Perugina cemetery, the model depicts a woman with clothes unfolded by the wind and a hairstyle in the style of the first twenty years of the Twentieth century
Funerary monument to Laura Vigo, the model used by Canonica for the funeral monument in Turin, is in plaster, the model depicts a girl holding a hula hoop in her hand.
L’Orfanella – in memoriam, the plaster work dates back to 1886. The statue is a model for the Bongiovanni bronze funeral monuments located in the cemeteries of Mondovì and Guilzoni, Turin. The monument depicts a woman in a dress and hood sitting.

Room 3
It is one of the largest rooms in the museum. It displays larger celebratory, funerary and allegorical works. The base of the monument to Kemal Ataturk, which Canonical inaugurated in Izmir in 1932 and that to the Turkish Republic in the Battle of Sakarya Group.

This room houses various works ranging from the celebratory, the funeral monument and the allegorical. Among the main ones are the monument to Kemal Ataturk, Canonica inaugurated it in Smyrna in 1932 and the Group of the Battle of Sakarya. Among the statues for portrait purposes there are the equestrian statue depicting Simón Bolívar and King Feysal of Iraq. Among the allegories are “Lo Scavatore” from 1910 and the “Vigil of the soul” from 1901.

There are also models for the doors for the church of the Abbey of Montecassino

The two models of equestrian statues dedicated respectively to the Latin American hero Simon Bolivar and to King Faysal of Iraq. Of particular interest is the latter work: the only evidence left after the destruction of the original in the 1958 revolution.

In addition to the funerary monuments commissioned by important aristocratic families, some excellent allegorical works such as Lo Scavatore from 1910 complete the collection of the room. classicist imprint, The Vigil of the soul of 1901, adhering to the symbolist themes, and the Four Seasons of 1914.

Room 4
Room IV is a small passage room, there are exposed the busts made in 1943 by Michele di Romania and his mother Elena, queen of Romania, and by Emanuele Filiberto Duca d’Aosta (1934-36).

In this room there are two busts depicting noble characters.

Room 5
They are mainly models and sketches, plaster busts and anatomical studies made by Pietro Canonica: among these are the plaster bas-relief for the Monument to Alessandro Manzoni and Antonio Rosmini, and the sketch of the statue of the Immaculate Madonna, made by the artist for the city of Cosenza and replicated for the Abbey of Casamari.

In this room various busts of noble characters and the statue depicting: Remembrances, bust of around 1916, is in marble.

Room 6
The room is largely occupied by works of sacred subject. Along the walls are the reliefs for the Via Crucis (1958), the sculptures depicting Christ on the column, Saint Peter, Saint Paul of Tarsus and a Crucified Christ, model for the bronze work performed by Pietro Canonica for the Palazzo delle Congregazioni Orientals in Rome. Another work inspired by passion is the flagellated Christ in marble, replicated by the artist for his collection in 1920, from an original from 1898.

Sacred subjects are displayed in this room, including 14 bronze bas- reliefs depicting the Via Crucis. There is also a bronze bas-relief with a bronze patina entitled “Funeral procession”. This is the original model for the Chiappello family chapel in the Turin cemetery. The model was made in 1924.

Room 7
Room VII is the portraiture room par excellence, excluding the three allegorical works such as the Abyss, Woman’s Torso, and Pudore. The long room that connects the museum with the private apartment has the appearance of a corridor, with an alignment of busts (almost all plaster models, bronze patinated plaster and terracotta) placed on shelves along the walls and a “thorn ”Central of allegorical works in marble.

The eminent characters portrayed here are the protagonists of more than half a century of history, aristocrats, politicians, writers and scientists from Italy, Europe and even Egyptians and Turks, all immortalized by Pietro Canonica: among these are the busts of Luigi Einaudi, King Fuad of Egypt, Guglielmo Marconi, Vittorio Scialoja, Sidney Sonnino, Edward VIII of England, Virginia Agnelli Bourbon del Monte, and of the little Vittorio Emanuele and Maria Pia di Savoia, and many others.

In this room are exhibited, among other things, in addition to various busts for portraiture purposes, among various famous personalities both Italian and foreign, of high offices of the state and clergy, belonging to the nobility, in the latter case both children and adults, and of a mountain woman from Gressoney :
The abyss, a 1909 sculpture, is in marble, the sculpture depicts a man and a woman embracing each other.
May, sculpture of 1900, is in patinated plaster, a copy of the original in marble located in Amsterdam in the Stedelijk Museum.
Torso di donna, sculpture from 1896, is in marble, the statue depicts a nude of a seated woman lacking an arm and head.
Pudore, sculpture fromaround 1920, is made of marble, the statue depicts a nude woman seated while trying to cover her face with her arms, in the sense, precisely of shame and modesty..
This room is currently closed only to visitors, but it is possible to view the works from the two sides of the room.

Pietro Canonica ( Moncalieri, 1 March 1869 – Rome, 8 June 1959 ) was a sculptor and composer Italian ; he was appointed senator for life by Luigi Einaudi in 1950 and in 1958 he presided over the Assembly as provisional president.

He was born in Moncalieri, a town in the Province of Turin, northern Italy. His long and prestigious artistic career started at an early age when he became an assistant to Luca Gerosa at age ten. One year later, he was admitted to the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti of Turin, where he was instructed by Enrico Gamba and Odoardo Tabacchi in making sculpture.

He initially adhered to the traditions of Naturalism, with Romantic and Renaissance influences, turned but later to Realism, without making concessions to the more avant-garde artistic tendencies of the 20th century. After World War II, Pietro Canonica devoted himself to more religious artworks.

He gained big success in the official environment of Turin for his civic and religious monuments. Following the formative period in Turin, he moved in 1922 to Rome, and participated in important national and international exhibitions in Milan, Rome, Venice (Italy), Paris (France), London (England), Berlin, Dresden (Germany), Monaco, Brussels (Belgium) and St. Petersburg (Russia), and received official recognition. Commissioned by Italian and foreign aristocracy in European courts, Pietro Canonica created portraits and commemorative works with passion. The master of equestrian sculpture also produced medallic art.

He was professor of sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia (1910) and later at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma. He was in the first cadre of members named to the Royal Academy of Italy in 1929, and a member of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca (1930).

In 1937, he managed to obtain the concession to renovate Villa Borghese, a 16th-century building owned by the City of Rome and used as administrative offices until it was abandoned in 1919 following a fire. In exchange of the promise to donate his artworks to the city, he was allowed to use the historical building as home and studio, which he repaired and decorated at his own expense. The unusual architectural construction within the Villa Borghese gardens, called also “La Fortezzuola”, is a museum since 1961 dedicated to his name, exhibiting studies, models, sketches, casts and original works of the artist. His wife donated the valuable furnishings and paintings found in their private section after her death in 1987.

Pietro Canonica was also an accomplished musician and composed the operas La sposa di Corinto (1918), Miranda (1937), Enrico di Mirval, Impressioni, Sacra Terra and Medea (1959).

In 1950, Italian President Luigi Einaudi nominated him life senator for his outstanding artistic achievements. Pietro Canonica died on June 8, 1959 in Rome.

Pietro Canonica Museum
The Pietro Canonica Museum is the home-museum of the sculptor Pietro Canonica and is part of the system of museums in the Municipality of Rome. It is located in via Pietro Canonica 2, near Piazza di Siena, in Villa Borghese, near the fortress (so called for its appearance, but in the 17th century known as “Gallinaro”). The house, where the artist lived until his death, was donated to him by the municipality of Rome which now manages the museum.

The Museo Pietro Canonica, hidden in the greenery of the Villa Borghese, is an important example of the museological model of museums based on artist’s houses, and in its integrity is one of very few examples in Italy.

The museum collection consists primarily of works by Pietro Canonica: marbles, bronzes and original models, as well as a large number of sketches, studies and replicas which provide a complete journey through the evolution of this artist’s works and is therefore an extremely interesting resource for learning about the creative and practical processes involved in creatying sculpture.

The particular layout of this museum offers vistors, as well as the normal route through the seven exhibition rooms on the ground floor, a private, more “intimate” tour which snakes through the workshop and, on the first floor, the artist’s private apartment. This wing of the museum houses a collection of precious furnishings, art objects, Flemish tapestries and even a suit of Samurai armour from the XVII century, as well as an extremely important collection of paintings which belonged to the sculptor, particularly nineteenth century Piedmontese canvases, including works by Enrico Gamba, Giovan Battista Quadrone, Antonio Fontanesi and Vittorio Cavalleri.