Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sculpture of the Day: The Meissen Three Graces, c. 1785

The Three Graces
Meissen, 1784-1785
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This handsome figure group depicts the “Three Graces” as known from classical Greek mythology. They are called: Aglaea, Euphrosne and Thalia and they personify charm, beauty and joy (among other interpretations). These young ladies were the companions of Aphrodite, Apollo and Athena.

Made in Meissen, Germany around 1784-17855, the group of hard-paste porcelain is modeled after classical sculptures and murals depicting the subject—specifically one particular sculpture in the collection of Cardinal Borghese in Rome. The cardinal’s sculpture had been restored in the early Seventeenth Century. During this restoration, carved flowers were added to the hands. The sculpture was sketched and painted numerous times.

It is believed that the Meissen Factory’s J.E. Schenau, who ran the Meissen drawing school, sketched the design which was modeled by Christian Gotfried Jüchtzer. The group was so popular and produced in such numbers that, by 1789, the moulds had worn out and needed to be repaired by Jüchtzer. 

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