Bust of Beatrice

Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757–1822)


Overall (excluding socle): 45.7 x 27.9 x 25.4 cm (18 x 11 x 10 in.) Overall (with socle): 58.4 x 27.9 x 25.4 cm (23 x 11 x 10 in.) Other (socle): 12.7 x 17.8 cm (5 x 7 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Stone; marble

On View

Thomas Jefferson Coolidge III Gallery (Gallery 248)





Marble bust by Antonio Canova

Canova is generally considered the greatest neoclassical sculptor, and he was the most famous artist of his day. This bust began as a portrait of renowned beauty Juliette Récamier, whose celebrated image painted by Jacques-Louis David (1800) hangs in the Louvre Museum. Canova’s original plaster bust did not please Récamier, and he abandoned the idea of carving a marble version. Instead, he idealized his sitter’s features, transforming the bust into an “ideal head” of Beatrice, muse of the poet Dante. The ideal head was a type of marble bust created by Canova to present images of perfect beauty.


1930s, Bensi family, Genoa; by 1954, sold by Bensi to a private collection, Italy; until 2002, by descent within the family, to a private collector [see note 1]; 2002, sold by the private collector, through Peter Laverack, New York, to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 25, 2002)

[1] The provenance was provided by Peter Laverack at the time of its acquisition.

Credit Line

William Francis Warden Fund, Edward J. and Mary S. Holmes Fund, John Lowell Gardner Fund, Russell B. and Andrée Beauchamp Stearns Fund, Helen B. Sweeney Fund, Frank B. Bemis Fund, Seth K. Sweetser Fund, H.E. Bolles Fund, Arthur Mason Knapp Fund, and Benjamin Pierce Cheney Donation