Antonio Canova (1757-1822) to Anonymous Tivoli, July 1, 1785
Antonio Canova was an Italian sculptor from Possagno near Venice, who was famous for his marble groups of neoclassical style. One of Canova's most famous masterpieces was his idealized portrait of Paolina Borghese –Napoleon Bonaparte's sister – depicted as Venus. When he was twenty-two years old he moved to Rome to complete his training and find inspiration by looking at the works of antiquity. He settled there permanently in 1781. Canova produced most of his major artworks in Rome, such as Amore e Psyche (Psyche revived by Cupid's Kiss,1793) and Le Tre Grazie (The Three Graces, 1816).
This letter sent to a friend from Tivoli, was written just a few years after Canova settled in Rome. Tivoli is a small city at the northeast of Rome. Canova most likely spent part of his summer being a guest at some friend's house in Tivoli. However, in this letter we find him unhappy and restless when away from his work.
I am so bored to be in Tivoli, I cannot stand it anymore. I am not badly treated, on the contrary, but I do not know how to spend my free time. I can only go out of the house early in the mornings or in the evenings. The rest of the day being too hot, it is most advised to stay in one's room; if I wanted to read the entire day I would be way too tired; and if I wanted to paint, I would not even know how to do it in this heat. In other words, I feel well only at my house […] If only I could be in Rome tonight! […] I long to be able to regain my most beloved freedom, to be able to eat what I want, and to go to bed when it pleases me […].
Your true friend,