In January 1818, Antonio Canova at the height of his European fame signed contract for property destined solely for the practice of sculpture.
This was to favour his favourite pupil, the promising Adamo Tadolini. The housings located on the corner of Via del Babuino and Via dei Greci, the area of Rome traditionally animated by artists’ workshops was also the site where Canova lived and executed numerous commissions. He considered Adamo Tadolini the most gifted of his pupils, and maybe his only spiritual heir.
Together they formed an intense collaborative relationship. This is reflected in the number of jobs handed down to him, and particularly on the singular opportunity to reproduce, under Canova’s strict surveillance, his most famous works.
From 1818 until 1967 the atelier in Via del Babuino remained in the possession of generations of sculptors belonging to the Tadolini family. The art of animated sculpture, guided by the spiritual climate of the time, was passed on from father to son in a reciprocal relationship. The long passage of time is marked in the sculpted marble; thus giving testimony to the memory of over one hundred and fifty years of Italian sculpture. Whithin the atelier, this is visible within the preparatory models for finished works in marble or bronze destined all over the world; in the sculptures in marble and bronze; in the anatomical exercises; and lastly, in the mechanical instruments used by the artists. The recent restoration was a sensitive operation to salvage the unique atmosphere of the once disorderly and dusty atelier. This was performed respecting the original colours of the decoration and materials and the casual placing of the works.
The precious atelier, probably the only surviving exemplar of the sort, houses collection grouped together in casual arrangement, thus failing to follow a systematic order. The juxtaposition of works by Canova and Adamo with more romantic works, or with works of a more political tone such as the ones by Scipione and Giulio, or even with the more intimate world of Enrico is voluntary, fulfilling the creation of timeless atelier. This leaves scope for the imagination to travel without barriers, from the neoclassical grace towards the bourgeois dimension of the twentieth century; a journey accompanied by magnificent collection of sculpture.