This sculpture of ‘Pauline Borghese as Venus Victrix’ is a half-length version of Antonio Canova’s original work of 1805-08, now in the Galleria Nazionale della Villa Borghese, Rome. The Government Art Collection (GAC) version is thought to have been made by Canova’s pupil, Adamo Tadolini (1788-1868), and is usually on display in the entrance hall of HM Ambassador’s Residence in Paris, a building which was formerly occupied by Pauline herself. The white marble, semi-nude portrait sculpture shows Pauline reclining on a couch of gilt and painted wood. Canova’s depiction of Pauline became one of the most famous sculptures of its day. A similar work by another of Canova’s pupils, Raimondo Trentanove (1792-1832), was formerly in the music room at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, and an example of the many smaller versions, which may have been sold in Rome as souvenirs, is also held in the GAC (Ref: 0/60).
Adamo Tadolini studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna, with another future pupil of Canova, Giacomo di Maria (1762-1838). Tadolini later entered Canova’s studio in Rome, where he assisted with numerous sculptures. He is generally considered the most gifted of Canova’s pupils and is particularly known for his statues of ‘Charles III’ in Naples, and ‘St Paul’ and ‘King David’, both in Piazza de Spagna, Rome. He exhibited two busts at the Royal Academy in London, in 1830 and 1853.
Pauline Borghese (née Bonaparte), Princess Borghese (1780-1825) sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, as Venus
Marble and carved wood sculpture
height: 53.50 cm, width: 99.00 cm
Purchased from Spink through donations from Lord Forte and Lord Sieff, 1988
With Spink; from whom purchased by the Government Art Collection (with donations from Lord Forte and Lord Sieff) in 1988; the pedestal (designed by Alec Cobbe; not including the original couch made of painted and gilded wood) was commissioned and presented by Sir Ewen and Lady Fergusson in 1990
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