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The process of liquefying bronze was, for Cellini and according to Cole, the revivification of the ancient medium.
To understand its role as an emblem of Italy, the state of the arts between France and Italy at this time must be considered.However, while the eighteenth century saw great collecting for Rome, the tradition came to an abrupt end with the Treaty of Tolentino, when over 100 of the most famous pieces from throughout collections in Rome became part of the Musée Napoléon.According to Clark, about 150 of 500 art objects were returned after the museum’s close in 1814, but because some had come to France by sale, and others by treaty, full restoration would never be possible. Although the collections had served a place in Roman culture, their removal sparked a heated debate that had its origins in the controversy over the Elgin Marbles (removed by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon in Athens while under Turkish rule), as well as the displacement of French art during the Revolution of 1789.A century followed of new successful amateurs and collectors.Although the papal collection was not yet officially public in Canova’s time, it was nevertheless often viewed by the public.When, for example, his was placed on a lower pedestal beside it, and certainly to unpracticed eyes played but an humble part, when compared with the marble statue of the Gorgon-slayer, aided by all the charms of exquisite finish as well as spotless material, and placed in the most favorable light. (1801) for the Vatican Museum collection, it was the first modern work to be afforded the honor of being displayed in the papal gardens, which was normally exclusively for ancient collections. Yet, the creation of Canova’s , as the new work stood on the old statue’s pedestal. This was not the first time that the artist was challenged by an ancient/modern comparison.Canova, who was also asked to direct art and antiquities in Rome, had by 1801 become an expert in rivaling the antique.1757) as one of the few artists of the eighteenth century who seemed to rival the ancients, C. Fernow explained, was carried away to Paris, they ventured to assert that the loss was by no means irreparable.So little did the artist himself shun a comparison with the antique, that when occasion offered, he placed the noblest works of Greece beside his own, and seemed to challenge a comparison.An element of Canova’s that has yet to be fully considered is its connection not only to restoring the papal collection and native Italian art, but also its modern emblematic meaning as a symbol of art museums and collecting in the early nineteenth century.The landscape of collecting and displaying art was altered drastically in the prior century by the compulsions of collectors who shared delightful finds with guests, through cabinets of curiosities.