This is one of the scenes representing episodes in classical epic poetry, for which Canova drew inspiration from Cesarotti’s translations of Homer’s works. This episode is the only one taken from the Aeneid, but also connected to the events recounted by Homer in the Iliad. The sculptor completely foregoes narration, eliminating all decorative elements and focusing entirely on tersely rendering the event, with the intention of representing the classical spirit that is the well-spring of his art. This relief has a dramatic quality created by powerful gestures. Among the figures, we are struck by the woman in subtle stiacciato (low relief) who stands out from the background, her arms outstretched to the sky and her head thrown back. Unquestionably inspired by images of mourners in the countless Lamentations Over the Dead Christ, she possesses an extraordinary modernity that appears to prefigure Picasso’s achievements in Guernica. The bas-relief was reproduced in an engraving by Tommaso Piroli (engraver) and Vincenzo Camuccini (draughtsman): copperplate etching retouched with burin; 242 x 460 mm.


  • Title: The Death of Priam
  • Creator: Antonio Canova
  • Date: 1787/1790
  • Physical Dimensions: w280 x h141 x d17 cm (Complete)
  • Exhibition: Gallerie d'Italia, Piazza Scala, 6, Milano
  • Provenance: Cariplo Foundation, 1991
  • Type: Sculpture, bas relief, plaster
  • Rights: http://www.artgate-cariplo.it/en/disclaimer.html
  • External Link: www.artgate-cariplo.it

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