In addition to the fact that the figures are embracing, what other element links the three together in Canova’s sculpture of Zeus’s daughters?
A scarf, also known as a Kremer, muffler or neck-wrap, is a piece of fabric worn around the neck, near the head or around the waist for warmth, cleanliness, fashion, or religious reasons. They can come in a variety of different colours.
Clue: The three slender female figures become one in their embrace, united by not only their linked hands, but also by the scarf which links all of them together. The unity of the Graces is one of the piece’s main themes. In the version of the piece commissioned by Countess Josephine, the Graces are stood on a sacrificial altar adorned with three wreathes of flowers and a garland symbolizing their fragile, close ties.
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 youth/beauty(Thalia), mirth(Euphrosyne) and elegance(Aglaia). 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.