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Paolina Borghese Bonaparte as Venus Victrix

Canova Antonio
(Possagno 1757 - Venice 1822)


The work was commissioned from the famous sculptor in 1804 by Prince Camillo Borghese (1775-1832) in honour of his young wife, sister of the emperor Napoleon.
Creating quite a stir among her contemporaries, the princess dressed in the guise of the goddess Venus, who was victorious in the Judgment of Paris, to magnify her social and dynastic status and her famous beauty.
Paolina (1780-1825) is lying semi-nude on a painted wood dormeuse decorated with gilded insets, her slender fingers holding the apple attributed to the goddess as a sign recognizing her supremacy among the female divinities. Ancient gracefulness and compositional artifice come together in the naturalistic, almost pictorial rendering of the soft flesh and the light veils covering her hips.

After being transported to Camillo’s residence in Turin and subsequently to Palazzo Borghese in the Campo Marzio in Rome, the sculpture of Paolina arrived in the Villa Borghese on the Pincio in 1838. However, only in 1889 was it placed in Room 1 in accordance with the subjects depicted on the ceiling in the Stories of Venus and Aeneas by Domenico de Angelis (1779).


Object Details

Medium | Carrara marble, h cm 92, plus the bed cm 160


Inventory | LIV

Location | Room 1- Paolina Room


Period | '700 - '800


Classification | sculpture


  • Provenance
Provenance
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commissioned by Camillo Borghese (1804)

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