The Three Graces

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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.

A version of the sculpture is to be found in the Hermitage Museum, another is owned jointly and exhibited in turn by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Galleries of Scotland. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Galleries of Scotland (with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and John Paul Getty II) bought the sculpture jointly in 1994 for £7.6 million. The sculpture is exhibited by each museum in turn, spending approximately three years in each before moving again.

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