The Easel

Who’s Afraid of the Baroque?

Canova was born soon after the death of Bernini, Baroque sculpture’s great genius. His early works share Baroque’s ornamentation but that style was under attack. “Revolutionary energies” were afoot, not least from independent America. Canova captured these perfectly, becoming the pioneer of neoclassicism. His figures “are dry, airy and delicate … a singular attempt to communicate recognizably modern desires and fears.”