When the North Carolina State House in Raleigh commissioned a statue of George Washington in 1816, Thomas Jefferson recommended Antonio Canova, then one of Europe’s most celebrated artists. Canova depicted Washington in ancient Roman garb and the statue, the only work Canova created for America, was unveiled in 1821. When the State House caught fire a decade later, only a few charred fragments remained of Canova's masterpiece. This exhibit brings together the artist's full-sized plaster model, which has never left Italy, four prepatory sketches and other materials. also on view is Thomas Lawrence’s 1816 oil portrait of Canova.
Antonio Canova, George Washington. Photo: Fabio Zonta