Carrara: the19th century Academia sculpture from the initial influence by Canova and to its more independent approach as the “Scuola di Carrara”

North- east  Tuscany:  a wild landscape where the Apuan Alps meet the Mediterranean sea. This place deserves to be discovered. Tuscany Holiday Rent proposes  interesting holiday accommodations  in the area, nice apartments for rent in a villa on the Versilia coast, not far from  Carrara quarries. From the beach you can have a sight of them. Here, they, like white scars on the mountains, proudly stand, ready to tell their stories of great artists and humble quarrymen both struggling, though from different perspectives,  against the secrets of this wonderful stone. The focus of marble related activities is Carrara, a small town, already  known by the ancient  Romans who first exploited the quarries to state their challenge against  time and to asseverate their power. After the oblivion of the Middle Ages, marble in the Renaissance was back in use, widely employed in Florence, Rome and Venice. Michelangelo, the artist of the “Pietà”, used to come here to  personally choose  the” Statuario” (the white marble for sculptures). The foundation of  the Academy of Fine Arts, dating back to1769, stated the vocation of the land, thanks to  Maria Teresa Cybo- Malaspina  from a Genoa family of rich merchants,  well connected with  the most prestigious European noble families. The famous institution was boosted  by Napoleon  who bestowed the Grand  Duchy of Tuscany on his sister Elisa Baciocchi.  It’s the season of Neoclassicism.  Famous sculptors such as the French Chinard, the Italian Canova or the Danish Thorvaldsen came to Carrara,  either to choose the marble blocks or to directly work in the best local workshops. To Carrara artistic tradition  the homage of the exhibition “ D’Apres Canova. L’800 a Carrara (After Canova, the 19th century in Carrara), inaugurated in June 2011, and lasting up to June 2012 . The event shows 26 plaster casts from the Academy  collection. A charming tour  into the manifold streams of the 19th century Carrara sculpture.

The visitor is firstly welcomed by the 1810 sculpture of Napoleon’s mother, Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte by Canova,  the reference artist for Carrara  sculptors, together with Lorenzo Bartolini and Bertel Thorvaldsen.   Pietro Tenerani is   emblematic in this sense. His “Paride” ,“Psyche  Abandoned” and” Psyche Fainted”, are so close to the stylistic elements of  Canova. Later he will lately abandon Canova’s  path, to surrender to his statues’ inner lives. He, in fact,  will  pave the way to the peculiar style of what will be later defined as the “Scuola di Carrara” well represented by Bernardo Tacca and Luigi Bienaimè.  Among the outstanding sculptors the exhibition highlights  particularly Carlo Finelli  who, though  heir to Canova,  succeeds in overcoming classicism in his masterpiece “Le Ore” because of the work’s psychological connotation and movement,  beyond any abstraction and stiffness of the great neoclassical artist.

Actually times are changing and something new is springing out. Hence the new social approach to art  by Pietro Lazzerini and Carlo Nicoli . The  echoes of a new perception of life are creeping inside  the Academia  where the first romantic and realistic hints  are  timidly trying to shadow neoclassical taste, still hard to die.

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