By Michael Day in Milan
Bonaparte's sister as their ideal depiction of female beauty.
And in coming top in the poll of over 1,000 Italians, Canova's early 19th-century sculpture, Paolina
Borghese, beat celebrated female figures painted by Botticelli, Titian and Hayez – and left Leonardo's
Mona Lisa for dead.
Marilena Ferrari, president of the Foundation, which commissioned the survey by the research group
Censis, said it showed the enduring popularity of the classical depiction of female beauty.
"There were 22 depictions of Venus among the most popular works of art, which says something about
the popularity of classical female forms," she said.
Canova's sculpture, in which Paolina Bonaparte is shown as Venus reclining on a chaise lounge, gives the
subject an elegance and composure of the works of ancient Greece and Imperial Rome. Dr Rossana
Pittelli, of the Italian Cultural Institute, noted, however, that despite her classical depiction, Napoleon's
sister was actually "a bit of a rebel".
The award for most aggressive women in art was shared by Titian's Salome with the Head of John the
Baptist and Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernese.