Through a process developed by the artist, the finish is beautiful and brilliant, reaching the delicacy of a real skin. Canova explained his method of passing a brush dipped in sanded water on the surface and then cleaning with a sponge. The marble remains natural without adding pigments.
The busts of young women suit very well the perfection reached by Canova. From 1811 he proposes to his clients his Ideal Heads (Teste Ideali) to which he usually attributes mythological, historical, literary or allegorical denominations. Some of them are presented to patrons whom he wishes to honor.
In March 2012 a marble head is auctioned in London without identification of author, title and provenance. The buyer inspects it after the sale and identifies it as the Bust of Peace carved by Canova in 1814 while he was working on a full length statue on that theme for a Russian minister.
At this time the whole Europe is eager to end the Napoleonic wars. The Pope asks for help from Canova for the repatriation of looted art. The Bust of Peace is promised and then delivered by the artist to a British Lord involved in this project. The identification of the piece was lost by the descendants.
This bust 53 cm high including its white marble socle will be sold as lot 25 by Sotheby's in London on July 4. The video below shows that its quality is real. It is surprising that no attribution was attempted in 2012.
SOLD for £ 5.3M including premium