Currently in storage at the Gallerie dell’Accademia are Antonio Canova’s plaster casts for the two crouching lions made of polished travertine for the tomb of Pope Clement XIII (1693-1769) in St. Peter’s in Rome. Venetian by birth, Pope Clement XIII was born Carlo Rezzonico. The Vatican guide to St.Peter’s describes them as “two superb lions, among the most beautiful creations by Canova …. The one awake, on the left, represents the energetic work of the Pope while the one asleep, on the right, symbolizes his moderation.”
Canova himself donated the studies to the Accademia delle Belle Arti and they were used there as models for the students until relatively recently.
Restoration work will involve making good untreated breakages, one in particular affecting a rear paw of one of the lions, the renewal of old repairs, the renovation/replacement of the internal wood and metal framework and the cleaning and reconditioning of the gesso surfaces. The lions’ wooden pedestals will also be restored.
Like another group of preparatory models by Canova, whose restoration was financed by ViP in 2012, the lions will go on show in the new rooms in the Palladio Wing of the Accademia Galleries, due to open in beginning 2016
The project will be directed by Dr. Matteo Ceriana, the Director of the Accademia, and the work carried out by Daniele Angellotto, who restored the Canova bozzetti for ViP last year and has recently restored the gesso preparatory panels Canova made for the metopes on the temple at Possagno.
The entire cost of the operation will be covered by a generous donation from Trustee Marina Morrisson Atwater.