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Pietro Canonica (1869 -1959) | Figurative sculptor

The aim of the artist is to study truth in its purest form, concentrating the greatest possible emotion on it”, with these words Pietro Canonica declared his predilection for an art capable of idealising and yet at the same time expressing the most secret motions of the soul.
In his sculptures he combines the proportions and balance of classical art, the refined models of fifteenth century Florentine work, the lightness of touch of neoclassicism, Romantic disquietude and nineteenth century sensibility.
Gifted with an absolute mastery of technique and great ability and speed in working the material, he received commissions from the aristocracy of all Europe, who sought after his refined taste and idealization.

Although these were the years of the historical avant garde, Canonica continued to create “classical” art, remaining faithful to his image of himself and his own instinct to trust in “beauty”.
Pietro Canonica (1869 -1959) was an Italian sculptor of international repute, painter, opera composer, professor of arts and senator for life.

Pietro Canonica was born in Moncalieri in 1869.
He attended the Accademia Albertina in Turin, in an Italy which had only recently been united into one country and was laboriously engaged in the difficult work of constructing an italian identity.
It was in this atmosphere, interwoven with moral and civil obligation, that Pietro Canonica’s aesthetic sense was formed, and he became an attentive and enthusiastic guardian of the italian artistic tradition.

He participated in all the most important national and international exhibitions, in Paris, Venice, London, Rome, Brussels and Petersburg.
He was a member of the Accademia di San Luca as well as numerous other foreign and italian academies, and in 1929 was elected to the Italian Academy and in 1950 he became a life Senator.

He made an impression in high aristocratic circles and was invited to all the courts of Europe, who competed to commission commemorative works from him, particularly busts and incisive portraits that seemed almost to be breathing, executed with a rare technical skill and authoritative modelling.

From Buckingham Palace to the court of the Tsar, innumerable aristocratic faces saw their most secret interiority modelled in marble.
The first world war ended this world, which constituted a reference point for the artist, as well as his main market, and he devoted himself to large scale monumental and celebrative works. The war memorials honouring the dead of the first world war in many italian piazzas are the work of Pietro Canonica.

In 1922 the artist moved to Rome and obtained from the city the use of the “Fortezzuola”, in the splendid Piazza di Siena, where the artist lived and worked until his death in 1959.

Pietro Canonica studied composing with the masters Cravero and Veneziani. He wrote, starting from 1912, various songs and occasional pieces, and five lyric operas. He began with the melodrama The wife of Corinth, an idea taken from a ballad of Goethe’s, and produced at the Teatro Argentina in 1918.

There followed a number of works, all inspired by classical texts, but with very dramatic contents: Miranda, based on Shakespeare’s Tempest, Enrico de Mirval, Medea after Euripides, and finally Sacred Land, dedicated to the city of Rome and a kind of spiritual testament, a farewell to his much loved country.
Canonica saw personally to every aspect of his operas: the libretto, the designs and sketches for costumes, the stage sets and even suggestions for the direction.

Pietro Canonica (Moncalieri, 1º marzo 1869 - Roma, 8 giugno 1959), scultore e musicista, si forma all'Accademia Albertina di Torino.
Insegna dal 1910 all'Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia e dal 1920 è direttore dell'Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma.
Nel 1929 è nominato accademico d'Italia e l'anno successivo diviene membro dell'Accademia di San Luca.

È presente alle maggiori esposizioni nazionali, tra cui, a Torino, alla mostra della Società Promotrice delle Belle Arti nel 1886 e, a Milano, dal 1891-1906 alla Triennale di Brera e alla Mostra di Belle Arti. Prende parte a diverse edizioni della Biennale di Venezia: dalla I (1895) alla XII (1920) e poi ancora alla XXI (1938).

A Roma partecipa dal 1904 all'Esposizione Internazionale di Belle Arti e negli anni Venti alla I e II Biennale Romana.
Tra il 1893-1904 espone alle più importanti mostre internazionali: a Parigi è all'Exposition des Beaux Arts, all'Exposition Universelle e al Salon d'Automne.
È presente ancora dal 1901-1909 all'Internationale Kunstaussellung di Monaco, nel 1910 partecipa all'Esposizione Universale di Bruxelles.

Tra il 1910-1911 espone a Pietroburgo a Palazzo Neuscheller e all'Accademia di Belle Arti. Raffinato ritrattista viene chiamato presso tutte le corti d'Europa, ottiene commissioni per opere celebrative, busti, ritratti, lavora per Buckingham Palace e per la corte degli zar.

Nel 1927 il Comune di Roma gli concede la Fortezzuola di piazza di Siena come studio-abitazione, dove vive e lavora fino al 1959, anno della sua scomparsa.
Nel 1950 viene nominato senatore a vita.
Come musicista compone alcune opere liriche, "Miranda" (1915), "La sposa di Corinto" (1918), "Enrico di Mirval" (1940), "Medea" (1953) e "Sacra Terra" alla quale lavora sino agli ultimi anni della sua vita.