About this artwork

This celebrated sculpture represents Euphrosyne, Aglaia and Thalia, the three daughters of Zeus and Euryoneme according to Greek mythology. The Three Graces are associated with Aphrodite (Venus), and embody such qualities as shared friendship, or chastity, beauty and love. Traditionally the Graces had been shown in a more static arrangement, with one of the sisters facing the opposite way to the others. Instead, Canova conceived a close-knit group bonded by complementary poses and gazes, interlaced arms and a crisply carved rope of drapery. The Duke and Duchess of Bedford commissioned the group from Canova in Rome in 1815. Completed by 1817, it was installed in the specially constructed Temple of the Graces at Woburn Abbey, the Bedfords’ country residence outside London. An earlier version of the group, with minor variations, is in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. There is strong evidence that the sculptor considered this second version to be superior to the first.

Updated February 2024

  • artist:
    Antonio Canova (1757 - 1822) Italian
  • title:
    The Three Graces
  • date created:
    1815 - 1817
  • materials:
  • measurements:
    173.00 x 97.20 x 75.00 cm; 585 kg
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Purchased jointly with the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, J Paul Getty II, Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, and corporate and private donations, 1994
  • accession number:
    NG 2626
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
  • subject:
  • glossary:
  • artwork photographed by:
    Antonia Reeve
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Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova

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