Primo Pensiero for George Washington

terracotta sculpture of George Washington

Antonio Canova (1757–1822)
Primo Pensiero for George Washington, 1817
13 3/8 x 11 3/8 x 8 1/8 in. (34 x 29 x 20.5 cm)
Museo di Roma, Palazzo Braschi, Rome
© Roma - Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali - Museo di Roma; photo Mauro Magliani


Canova’s work on the George Washington began with three-dimensional sketches in terracotta. This is likely to be his primo pensiero (first thought) for the sculpture — a working tool, with clay added quickly as the artist was developing ideas for the composition and iconography. Here, Washington appears seated, at his side a cornucopia that indicates the prosperity of the United States. It is possible to see pencil marks on his torso and shoulders, as well as several fingerprints in the clay.

Facebook Twitter Threads