On 1 August 2016, when Chiara Casarin, the incoming director of the Musei Civici di Bassano del Grappa, was being shown around the holdings of the museums, she was surprised to discover in the basement of the Palazzo Bonaguro several crates containing the decaying fragments of a colossal plaster animal. The fragments belonged to the sculpture of a horse made by the great neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822), which until 1969 had been displayed in the main hall of the Museo Civico di Bassano, but which had been dismantled by the museum’s then-director, with the approval of the Soprintendenza, on the grounds that it was too large and out of keeping with other exhibits in the museum.
Casarin called Adam Lowe, founder of Factum Foundation, and proposed that the Foundation scan the fragments with a view to creating a virtual 3D restoration of the horse. From this conversation a project developed to digitize not only the equestrian, but a far wider selection of the museums’ Canova holdings: albums of the artist’s drawings and notebooks, a terracotta maquette of the Three Graces, and sixty plaster casts made by the artist as part of the process of making bronze or marble sculptures.
Following digitisation, facsimiles have been made of two albums and of the Three Graces maquette. A reduced-scale bronze model of the restored horse has also been created, and Factum has data and models sufficient to permit a full-size recreation of Canova’s statue.
The pages in this section describe the various parts of the Canova digitisation project; a more detailed account can be found in the book Antonio Canova. Atelier.