Antonio Canova (1757–1822)
Fragment of George Washington (base and signature), 1818–20
16 1/2 x 25 x 4 3/4 in. (41.9 x 63.5 x 12.1 cm)
North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh
Courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of History
Following the destruction of the State House, in 1831, the fragments of Canova’s statue were preserved for future restoration. The work was never restored, but the charred and weathered fragments still survive, divided among four different locations in Raleigh. This fragment, from the base of the statue, shows part of the sword sheath, which originally rested on the floor under Washington’s legs. In this area, Canova also carved his signature in Latin: “A[ntonio] Canova made this in Rome, 1820.” This, like the other fragments, is an important archaeological relic of one of America’s most celebrated early masterpieces.