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Bust of Paris

Life-sized white marble bust of man with curly hair and strong features.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Life-sized white marble bust of man with curly hair and strong features.




Antonio Canova
Italian, 1757-1822

About this artwork

The enormously popular Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova frequently made replicas or variants of his major works to satisfy the demand for his art. While executing a commission from Empress Josephine of France for a full-length statue of Paris (State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg), Canova carved this bust for his friend Antoine Quatremère de Quincy, a French Neoclassical theorist and critic who greatly influenced the sculptor’s artistic ideals. It depicts the moment in Greek mythology when the shepherd Paris, called upon by Zeus to judge who was the most beautiful among Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, turns to gaze at the three goddesses. Canova exploited the subject to create an ideal head, balancing the geometry of pure forms with the sensuousness of Paris’s expression. Upon receipt of the gift, Quatremère stated: “There is in [the bust] a mixture of the heroic and the voluptuous, the noble and the amorous. I do not believe that in any other work you have ever combined such life, softness, and chaste purity.” Documents indicate that Canova made four full-length marble statues and at least seven busts of Paris, a clear indication of the sculpture’s popularity.


On View, Gallery 218


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Antonio Canova


Bust of Paris


Italy (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.





Inscribed: Ant(o)nio Quatremere/Amico Optimo/Antonius Canova/Dono Dedit/F. Romae/An. MDCCCIX"


69.9 × 30.8 × 28 cm (27 1/2 × 12 1/8 × 11 in.)

Credit Line

Harold Stuart Endowment; purchased with funds provided by Mrs. Harold T. Martin

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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