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72. The perfection of softness carved in hard marble

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

By - Giulio D'Ercole

I have been talking on Villa Borghese and its museum in several other blogs, but I like to come back again on it, sharing a photo I took some weeks ago: the one of Paolina Borghse Bonaparte, one of the most outstanding Canova's sculptures.

Here, as it also happens with Bernini's sculptures in the same museum, what amazes us is the way the artist was able to work the hard marble making it look like soft real material, being it a sheet, a mattress or a cushion.

In fact, what attracts our eye in this statue of Paolina Borghese on the chaise long, is not so much its feminine beauty, but rather the folds of the drape that she has around the hips and the legs, the sinking of the cushions on which the arm rests and the way the mattress itself is shaped by the whole woman's body. Everything looks absolutely real as if made of true fabric and real soft materials. Even the gentleness which she shows as she holds the small apple in her fingers is mind-blowing. As a matter of fact it is exactly the apple she holds in her hand that gives the name to the masterpiece, evoking Aphrodite's victory in the Judgement of Paris.

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