The Fig Reveal

17 – 28 June 2019

“The statue that advertises its modesty with a fig leaf really brings its modesty under suspicion.” – Mark Twain

Join us this Cork Midsummer Festival for a revealing two weeks as sculpture conservator Eoghan Daltun returns to remove the fig-leaves from six male figures in our collection of Canova Casts: Adonis, Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön and His Sons, and the Belvedere Torso.

It is thought that they were added to our casts in Cork after 1818. Fig leaves have often been used to conceal nudity in art, referring to Adam and Eve’s use of them to cover their modesty following expulsion from the Biblical Eden. As such, their removal will restore our casts to their original condition.

After the 'fig' reveal, the plaster leaves will be retained and placed on display separately.

This live process will take place daily 17-21 June and 24-28 June. It will be accompanied by a free IN CONVERSATION event with Eoghan Daltun and Dr Michael Waldron at 1pm, Thursday 20 June. All welcome!

This conservation project runs as part of RECASTING CANOVA and Cork Midsummer Festival, continuing work begun with the support of The Heritage Council.

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Recasting Canova


Recasting Canova celebrates the bicentenary of the Canova Casts, the prestigious gift that forms the basis of our collection. The exhibition will present a re-energised and streamlined display of twelve historic sculptural casts. These faithful reproductions of renowned sculptures from Antiquity and the early 1800s were created under the supervision of the great Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822).

Reproducing some of the greatest works of Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture in the Vatican Museums, the Canova Casts were commissioned by Pope Pius VII as a gift for the Prince Regent (later King George IV) in thanks for Britain’s role in deposing Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). Made in Rome, these casts were subsequently dispatched from Deptford, London in October 1818 and, since their arrival in Cork, have transformed the ways in which art has been appreciated, studied, and practiced in the south of Ireland.

Recasting Canova offers visitors the opportunity to encounter this curious footnote to the Napoleonic era, and to explore the Classical style of Ancient Greece and Rome, the ways in which it has influenced the art of later times, and how its idea of perfection has been imitated, refashioned, and reproduced by artists.

Curated by Dr Michael Waldron

You can download the Exhibition Brochure here.

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