The Three Graces at the Hermitage Museum, Russia
Antonio Canova’s statue The Three Graces is a Neoclassical sculpture, in marble, of the mythological three charites, daughters of Zeus – identified on some engravings of the statue as, from left to right, Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia - who were said to represent beauty, charm and joy. The Graces presided over banquets and gatherings primarily to entertain and delight the guests of the gods. As such they have always proved to be attractive figures for historical artists including Sandro Botticelli and Bertel Thorvaldsen. The three nude woman, symbols of beauty, arts and fertility, stand together in a line in a composition to signify their alliance. The marble, lifesize piece was created in the 11th Century AD, discovered in Rome on mount Caelius. The piece is based on a previous artwork produced in the hellentistic period (330-30 BC) that can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Other versions of this piece in sculpture can be found here and here This piece is a rework of of the original by Jean-Jacques Pradier (1790 - 1852), created out of marble and presented to the salon in 1831. Based loosely from Botticelli's painting of the Three Graces in 'La Primavera', 1550. This object is part of "Scan The World". Scan the World is a non-profit initiative introduced by MyMiniFactory, through which we are creating a digital archive of fully 3D printable sculptures, artworks and landmarks from across the globe for the public to access for free. Scan the World is an open source, community effort, if you have interesting items around you and would like to contribute, email [email protected] to find out how you can help. This marble figure group was made for the Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, and was originally housed in a specially designed Temple of the Graces. It was commissioned from Antonio Canova by John Russel, 6th Duke of Bedford, who visited the sculptor in his studio in Rome in 1814, and was captivated by the group of the Three Graces which Canova had carved for the Empress Josephine, the estranged wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. She had died in May of that year, and the Duke offered to buy the group from Canova, but Josephine's son claimed it, and that version is now in the Hermitage, St Petersburg. The Duke commissioned a second version from Canova; this was begun in 1814, finished in 1817, and installed at Woburn in 1819. Canova came over to England to supervise the installation. In the Temple it was displayed on a pedestal adapted from an earlier marble plinth, with a rotating top. The Three Graces, celebrated in classical literature and art, were the daughters of Jupiter (or Zeus in Greek mythology), and companions to the Muses. Thalia (youth and beauty) is accompanied by Euphrosyne (mirth), and Aglaia (elegance). Canova had first depicted the Graces in a painting of 1799, and other drawings and a relief of the subject is also known to have been executed by him at around the same time. In 1810 he modelled a terracotta sketch (Musée de Lyon, France), and in 1812 the Empress Josephine ordered a full-size marble. Canova's marble group is based ultimately on his earlier drawings of the subject, and a closely comparable terracotta sketch model (see above). The immediate model for the marble used in the studio was the full-size plaster group, which still exists in the Canova Museum at Possagno, Italy. This has points on it which were used to transfer the composition from the plaster to the marble. Canova was responsible for the original design of the group, but his assistants would roughly block out the marble. The sculptor himself completed the final carving, and ensured the surface of the stone was finished in such a way as to suggest the soft flesh of the figures and the harmonious relationships between the three heads, for example. The slightly earlier version, now in St Petersburg and similarly supervised by the sculptor though differing in some details, exhibits a high quality of carving. Copies were made in marble during the 19th century after the sculptor's death; these however do not exhibit the same sensitive handling of the marble. This object is part of "Scan The World". Scan the World is a non-profit initiative introduced by MyMiniFactory, through which we are creating a digital archive of fully 3D printable sculptures, artworks and landmarks from across the globe for the public to access for free. Scan the World is an open source, community effort, if you have interesting items around you and would like to contribute, email [email protected] to find out how you can help.