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Conserved and exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Theseus on the Minotaur is certainly one of the most famous works made by Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova.
Commissioned by the Venetian ambassador in Rome, Gerolamo Zulian, it was built between 1781 and 1783. The artist worked sculpture alone without external aid. It found its current position in 1962.
The mythological subject of the work comes from the poet Ovid and his Metamorphoses. Canova worked marble in a pure neoclassical style, immortalizing the moment following the victory of Greek hero Theseus on the Minotaur, monster with man's body and bull's head. In the ancient legend, Theseus managed to get out of the labyrinth of Knossos with the help of Ariadne. The Greek hero is seduced on the minotaur's lifeless body as a hunter on a prey. It is an allegory that sees the victory of reason about irrationality, typical of Age of Enlightenment.
The simple, clean lines, the incredible aesthetic effect that the artwork has on the visitor, make it the precious piece of the sculpture statue hall at V&A.