Musei di Villa Torlonia

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Antonio Canova (Possagno 1757 - Venice 1822)
Socrates drinking hemlock
Sculpture
Plaster

The decision by Antonio Canova to depict scenes of Socrates’ life must have been due to his profound admiration for the fifth-century-BC philosopher from Athens who preferred death than to renege on his ideas and the laws of the city.
Nor should it be undervalued that Socrates was the son of a sculptor and that he too delighted in the art.
In the Torlonia relief, Socrates is at the centre of the scene in which, like a tragic chorus, he is surrounded by figures bowed down by sorrow, though they are at the same time filled with dignity.
In the background of the relief, it is just possible to make out a bench on which a tunic and chain (the symbols of imprisonment) lie.
On the left, the composition focuses of the figure of Socrates bent over with sorrow, shown in a manner reminiscent of Giotto or Masaccio, while on the right there is a drop in the dramatic tension.

Provenance: From ball room of Palazzo of Villa Torlonia

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