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The exhibition „Classic Beauties“ in Amsterdam unveils the sensual enchantment of Neoclassicism

Antonio Canova, „The Three Graces“, 1812–16 (detail). Source: Aurelio Amendola / State Hermitage Museum, St PetersburgAntonio Canova, „The Three Graces“, 1812–16 (detail). Source: Aurelio Amendola / State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Shown are 8 sculptures by Antonio Canova, including his iconic „The Three Graces“, „Amor and Psyche“ and „Hebe“

The Exhibition „Classic Beauties“ in the museum Hermitage in Amsterdam (until January 13, 2018) tells the story of the artists and tourists who flocked to Italy, and more especially Rome, in the second half of the 18th century. They were fascinated by the finds from excavations being carried out at Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Tivol and went to the Eternal city for inspiration. The artists did not only copy the style of the forefathers but created was a new, unprecedentedly sensual style which sent shock waves through society: a naked, superhuman beauty more daring than anything attempted by the Greeks and Romans. Neoclassicism was born.

Among those travelers to Italy who spent months traveling to and sightseeing in Italy were Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the ,Count and Countess of the North’ (the later Russian Tsar Paul I and his wife Maria Fyodorovna). In the course of their ,Grand Tour’ they encountered the greatest artists of the day.

Antonio Canova, „Hebe“, 1812–16. Source: Aurelio Amendola / State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

With over 60 sculptures, paintings and drawings by 25 top names, the exhibition „Classic Beauties“ offers visitors their own Grand Tour of Italy. On the way, it introduces them to the artists of the period, including Pompeo Batoni, Anton Raphael Mengs, Angelica Kauffmann, Giovanni Piranesi and – most celebrated of all – Antonio Canova. The show features no fewer than 8 sculptures by the latter, including his iconic „The Three Graces“, „Amor and Psyche“ and „Hebe“.

Antonio Canova, „Dancer“, 1800-1805. Source: State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

To create „Classic Beauties“, the Hermitage Amsterdam has had exclusive access to the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. The displays are further enriched with loans from other private and public collections, including the Royal Collections in The Hague and the Teylers Museum in Haarlem (The Netherlands).

Visitors enjoy a special audio guide, existing of 3 routes: music, mythology, and highlights. Classical music DJ Von Rosenthal produced a soundtrack for this exhibition, available as a music tour in the audio set. He created a romantic atmosphere with music that supplies a deeply sensual aspect to the spectacular works of Canova, Mengs, and Kauffmann, among others. The audioguide is included in the entrance ticket.

Three special publications appear at this exhibition. The richly illustrated catalog includes contributions from curators and authors Thera Coppens, Eric Moormann and Bernard Woelderink. Dutch and English.

Giovanni Paolo Panini, „Sybil speaking amidst Roman Ruins, with the Apollo Belvedere“, 1740–50. Source: State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

In addition, well-known Dutch author Arnon Grunberg wrote a short story entitled „Angst voor het naakt“ (Fear the nude), which is published in a small, beautifully bound edition. Dutch only.

A special notebook is published as well: „Couture for Canova“, for which six very different Dutch fashion designers have dressed Canova’s sculpture of Hebe. The result is a colorful collection of designs for the goddess.

„Classic Beauties“ in the Hermitage in Amsterdam, until January 13, 2018

Hubert Robert, „Palace Entrance with a Portico and Caryatids“, 1800. Source: State Hermitage Museum, St PetersburgJacob Philipp Hackert, „Maecenas’ Villa and the Waterfalls at Tivoli“, 1783. Source: State Hermitage Museum, St PetersburgPierre Jacques Volaire, „Eruption of Mount Vesuvius“, c. 1771. Source: State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

(04.07.2018, USA: 07.04.2018)