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Palamedes is one of the most famous masterpieces of Antonio Canova and it was the first work purchased by Sommariva form the famous artist.
The sculpture represents king Nauplius’s son, Palamede, known for inventing chess and dice games and some letters of the Greek alphabet. He was able to unmasked the insanity the King of Ithaca simulated in an attempt to avoid joining the Trojian War. Ulysses was obliged to leave his island and go fighting, but he never forgave Palamede and had his revenge by making him condemned to death with false accusations.
The subject was highly significant for Sommariva who, identifying himself with the cultivated and betrayed hero , wanted the impressive sculpure for his house in Tremezzo.
He commissioned this sculpture to Canova, but in April 1805, when it was still in the Canova’s atelier in Rome, the Tiber flooded several districts in Rome including Canova’s studio. The statue felt down and broke in many pieces. Canova personally restored it, between 1806 and 1808.
The sculpture arrived in Tremezzo in 1819: animpressive giant, underpinned with delicate stuccowork, that was extremely fragile.
It was located in a special room in the villa with wall mirrors surrounding it to set off its absolute formal perfection.
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