CARRACCI, Agostino
(b. 1557, Bologna, d. 1602, Bologna)

The Three Graces

Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt

The Three Graces are figures of Roman mythology who derive from the Greek Charites. They are the daughters of Zeus, and are called Euphrosyne, Thalia and Aglaia, meaning Joyfulness, Bloom, and Brightness. In antiquity, towards the end of the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, they were most often depicted as naked young women, and part of the entourage of Venus.

The most common representation of the group depicts the three women in a row, the outer ones shown frontally and the middle one in back view, their hands laid on each other's shoulders. Raphael's small panel is the most famous post-Antique interpretation of this type.

At the end of the sixteenth century Agostino Carracci made popular in an engraving another type which shows the figures from left to right in back, front, and side view, possibly in order to display feminine beauty from all three angles.