Canova-Tadolini Museum: If you want an insight into how master sculptors really worked, there is no better place to get it in Rome than in the Canova-Tadolini Museum at Via del Babuino 150a. This is no "museum display", but rather the actual atelier or workshop that was used and lived in by Antonio Canova and then by four generations of the Roman Tadolini dynasty of stone and metal sculptors -- Adamo (who was Canova's student and then collaborator), Scipione, Giulio, and Enrico Tadolini. The atelier was in use from the early 19th century through the 1960's and was reopened as a museum on October 18, 2000. Although the museum has only a few completed works by its illustrious inhabitants, it is chock full of their work models including many that are full scale. You can view them from a distance of just a few inches -- something you can never do with the finished products in bronze or marble, because they are up on high pedestals or behind velvet ropes. Also on display are the tools of the sculptors' trade, large albums of photographs that you can leaf through, and a mezzanine with hundreds of human and equine anatomy models, including the work models for the Paolina. The apartment above is also open for visits, but it is almost completely unfurnished -- a few additional sculptural works are on display there.

Canova's works are well known -- the most famous is his "Paolina Borghese" (which Canova labeled "Venere Vincitrice" -- "Venus the conqueress") on display at the Villa Borghese Museum here in Rome. Other Canova works grace the best museums worldwide. The Tadolini sculptors are less well known outside scholarly and artistic circles, but they were worthy and quite successful successors of the neo-classical tradition that Canova started. Their works are spread around the world: three castings of Adamo's Simon Bolivar Equestrian statue are in Caracas and Lima and in Piazza Bolivar next to the Modern Art Museum in Villa Borghese in Rome; Scipione's St. Michael is at Boston College (Gasson's Rotunda); Giulio's Leo XIII is in St. John Lateran here in Rome; Enrico's statue of St. Frances Cabrini is in St. Peter's -- and there are numerous others.

The Canova-Tadolini Museum is operated by the nearby Gallerie Benucci. It's very easy to find -- on the west side of the street and halfway between Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo, and the Babuino statue is right next to its front door. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM and from 3 PM to 7:30 PM. The ticket costs IL8,000 with a reduction to IL6,000 for groups of ten or more. The upper levels are not wheel-chair accessible, but there is a great deal to see on the ground floor. There are no restrooms.

Internet Links:

Canova, Come Home -- L'Espresso (in Italian):

Canova's greatest hits from "1200 anni di scultura italiana":

P.S.: The Venus statue, a nude portrait statue of Paolina Borghese (the sister of Napoleon Bonapart), is still displayed in the same room for which it was made in the Villa Borghese Museum. Like some other famous Roman sculptural works, it was originally mounted on a pivot so it could easily be turned for viewing in natural light from the window. The pivot was removed during the museum's renovation in the 1990's, when modern lighting was installed.