Antonio Canova, 'Amorino', 1789.

Antonio Canova (1757-1822)

Amorino, 1789

Marble, 142 cm (on 84cm high marble plinth)
Heritage Gift, Bank of Ireland, 1998

The most gifted and innovative sculptor of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Canova learnt the rudiments of carving from his grandfather. His precocious talent was first discovered by an aristocrat, Giovanni Falier, who became his patron and made it possible for him to be properly trained in Venice. In 1779 Canova visited Rome for the first time, and two years later he returned to settle there permanently.

With the success of his early monumental works, his fame grew rapidly, and his studio became a meeting point for intellectuals, collectors and foreign tourists. During one of these visits, in 1789, John La Touche, the 19-year-old son of the wealthiest Irish banker, commissioned this statue from the artist. Within two years the marble was finished and dispatched to Ireland.

The sculptor carved four similar versions of Amorino, with some modifications, but the present one is considered the most accomplished.

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