Memorial to Ammiraglio Angelo Emo, Antonio Canova, Museo Navale

About the project

In 1792, the Serenissima commissioned Antonio Canova to create a monument celebrating the military genius of the Republic, as represented by its last admiral Angelo Emo. It is a personification of fame writing the word  ‘immortality’.

Originally intended for the Sala delle Quattro Porte in the Doge’s Palace, it was eventually erected  in 1795 in the Arsenale, but is now on display on the ground floor of the adjacent Naval History Museum in Venice. Admiral Angelo Emo’s ‘Stele’ was the first commission given by  the Republic to Antonio Canova and he threw himself into the task producing many drawings, plaster models and compositional studies. It is interesting that at the same time as working on this memorial to the last hero of the Republic, who died in 1792, he was also working on another project of symbolic and political significance, his Monument to Titian for the Frari church, both projects expressive of the myth of the Serenissima. The Monument to Titian which was never realised was later adapted as the monument to Canova himself and is currently a Venice in Peril project. For the Emo monument Canova chose to use the model of a funerary tombstone, derived from the model of the Greco-Roman stele, which  he later reworked for thirteen other commissions.

The monument had suffered surface damage and staining caused by the oxidation of the metal dowels inside. Dirty deposits caused by the application of various wax-based protective agents, had altered the polished surface treatment, reducing the impact and enjoyment of its sculptural quality and modelling.

A project of conservative maintenance, funded by Venice in Peril, was funded by the Drapers’ Company of the City of London and undertaken by student restoration technicians from the Istituto Veneto per i Beni Culturali in Venice to restore the appearance of the stele.

The IVBC has had a long association with Venice in Peril since it was founded in 1995 by the Architect Renzo Ravagnan. Frances Clarke was involved from the outset as a signatory and then as its President and Honorary President.  

Project location

In brief

  • Antonio Canova’s memorial to the last Admiral of the Venetian Republic, Angelo Emo, was commissioned by the Senate , after 1792.
  • This is a conservative maintenance project was undertaken by students of the Istituto Veneto per i Beni Culturali and involved careful cleaning of surface deposits from earlier wax applications and staining from oxydised metal  cramps inside the work.  
  • The Istituto Veneto per i Beni Culturali was founded in 1995 by Renzo Ravagnan and you can find more about its conservation work and teaching here
  • With many thanks to Federica Restiani, Scientific Co-Ordinator of the IVBC.
  • This project was completed in time for the bicentenary of the death of Antonio Canova on 13 October 2022

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