This marble figure group was initially placed in a specially constructed Temple of the Graces, and was made for the Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire.
It was commissioned from Antonio Canova by John Russel, 6th Duke of Bedford, who seen 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'd expired in May of that year, and the Duke offered to purchase the group from Canova, but it was promised by the son of Josephine, and that variation is currently in the Hermitage, St Petersburg.
Another variation was commissioned by the Duke from Canova; this ended in 1817, was started in 1814, and installed at Woburn in 1819. Canova came over to England to supervise the setup. In the Temple it was shown on a pedestal
The Three Graces, observed in ancient literature and art, were the daughters of Jupiter (or Zeus in Greek mythology), and companies to the Muses. Thalia (youth and attractiveness) is accompanied by Euphrosyne (mirth), and Aglaia (sophistication).
Canova had depicted the Graces in a painting of 1799, and a relief of the subject and other drawings is understood to have been performed by him at around the exact same time. In 1810 he modelled a terracotta sketch (Musée de Lyon, France), and in 1812 the Empress Josephine purchased a full size marble.
Canova's marble group is based finally on his earlier drawings of the subject, and a strongly similar terracotta sketch model (see previously). The immediate model for the marble was the full size plaster group, which exists at Possagno, Italy in the Canova Museum. This has points on it which were used to transfer the makeup from the plaster to the marble.
Canova was responsible for the initial layout of the group, but the marble would be nearly blocked out by his helpers. The sculptor himself ensured the surface of the rock, and completed the closing carving was concluded in this kind of manner as to indicate the harmonious relationships between the three heads and the soft flesh of the figures, for instance.
The somewhat earlier version in likewise supervised by the sculptor details and St Petersburg, presents a high quality of carving. Copies were made after the sculptor's departure during the 19th century in marble; these yet don't show exactly the same sensitive treatment of the marble.
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