Canova was commissioned to execute the original version of the Venus Italica at the suggestion of Ludovico I as a replacement for the antique statue of the Medici Venus, which had been plundered by the French in 1802. At first reluctant to accept the commission, the challenge to surpass one of the masterpieces of Antique sculpture soon took hold of Canova. Completed in 1812, the sculpture was placed in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Popular from the moment it was unveiled, the Venus was subsequently replicated by Canova and purchased by among others, the Marquess of Lansdowne, the Marquess of Londonderry and Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino and brother of Napoleon.
To satisfy the demands of a healthy export market, predominantly to England, a small number of late 19th century Italian sculptors, such as Romanelli or Pietrò Barzanti, set up their own galleries, retailing high quality copies of Antique and Neo-Classical sculptures.