Three Graces (Raphael)

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The Three Graces
Raphael - Les Trois Graces - Google Art Project 2.jpg
Artist Raphael
Medium Oil on panel
Dimensions17.1 cm× 17.1 cm(6.7 in× 6.7 in)
Location Musée Condé, Chantilly

The Three Graces is an oil painting by Italian painter Raphael, housed in the Musée Condé of Chantilly, France. The date of origin has not been positively determined, though it seems to have been painted at some point after his arrival to study with Pietro Perugino in about 1500, [1] possibly 1503-1505. [2] [3] According to James Patrick in 2007's Renaissance and Reformation, the painting represents the first time that Raphael had depicted the nude female form in front and back views. [3]

Inspiration and theme

The image depicts three of the Graces of classical mythology. It is frequently asserted that Raphael was inspired in his painting by a ruined Roman marble statue displayed in the Piccolomini Library of the Siena Cathedral—19th-century art historian [Dan K] held that it was a not very skillful copy of that original—but other inspiration is possible, as the subject was a popular one in Italy. [1] [4] Julia Cartwright in Early Work of Raphael (2006) proposes that the painting bears far more influence of the school of Ferrara than classical sculpture, making clear that the statue was not Raphael's model. [5]

Vision of a Knight (1504-1505)
Raphael RAFAEL - Sueno del Caballero (National Gallery de Londres, 1504. Oleo sobre tabla, 17 x 17 cm).jpg
Vision of a Knight (1504-1505)

The three women in the painting may represent stages of development of woman, with the girded figure on the left representing the maiden (Chastitas) and the woman to the right maturity (Voluptas), though other interpretations have certainly been advanced. [6] [7]

In 1930, Professor Erwin Panofsky proposed that this painting was part of a diptych along with Vision of a Knight and that based on the theme of Vision the painting represented the Hesperides with the golden apples which Hercules stole. [8] Some art historians disagree with Panofsky's conclusion. Roger Jones and Nicholas Penny, in 1987's biography Raphael, suggest that the scale differences of the figures in the paintings make it unlikely that they were intended as a diptych, though "one might have formed the lid of the other." [9] In 16th Century Italian Art (2006), Michael Wayne Cole opines that while "there can be no doubt that they form a pair...they must not be imagined as a diptych, which is excluded by their square shape and also by the change in scale of the figures." [7] Cole presents the figures as handmaidens of Venus, holding the golden apples with which she is associated and affirming the proper connection of "Virtus" (presented by Vision) and Amor. [10]

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<i>St. Michael</i> (Raphael) painting by Raphael

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<i>Sistine Madonna</i> painting by Raphael

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<i>The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia</i> (Raphael) painting by Raphael

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<i>Crucifixion Diptych</i> (van der Weyden) painting by Rogier van der Weyden

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<i>Madonna in the Church</i> Small oil panel by Jan van Eyck

Madonna in the Church is a small oil panel by the early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. Probably executed between c. 1438–40, it depicts the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus in a Gothic cathedral. Mary is presented as Queen of Heaven wearing a jewel-studded crown, cradling a playful child Christ who gazes at her and grips the neckline of her red dress in a manner that recalls the 13th-century Byzantine tradition of the Eleusa icon. Tracery in the arch at the rear of the nave contains wooden carvings depicting episodes from Mary's life, while a faux bois sculpture in a niche shows her holding the child in a similar pose. Erwin Panofsky sees the painting composed as if the main figures in the panel are intended to be the sculptures come to life. In a doorway to the right, two angels sing psalms from a hymn book. Like other Byzantine depictions of the Madonna, van Eyck depicts a monumental Mary, unrealistically large compared to her surroundings. The panel contains closely observed beams of light flooding through the cathedral's windows. It illuminates the interior before culminating in two pools on the floor. The light has symbolic significance, alluding simultaneously to Mary's virginal purity and God's ethereal presence.

<i>Durán Madonna</i> painting by Rogier van der Weyden

Durán Madonna is an oil on oak panel painting completed sometime between 1435 and 1438 by the Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden. The painting derives from Jan van Eyck's Ince Hall Madonna and was much imitated subsequently. Now in the Prado, Madrid, it depicts a seated and serene Virgin Mary dressed in a long, flowing red robe lined with gold-coloured thread. She cradles the child Jesus who sits on her lap, playfully leafing backwards through a holy book or manuscript on which both figures' gazes rest. But unlike van Eyck's earlier treatment, van der Weyden not only positions his Virgin and Child in a Gothic apse or niche as he had his two earlier madonnas, but also places them on a projecting plinth, thus further emphasising their sculptural impression.

<i>Madonna Standing</i> (van der Weyden) painting by Rogier van der Weyden

The Madonna Standing is a small painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden dating from about 1430–1432. It is the left panel of a diptych held in the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM), Vienna since 1772. The right panel portrays St. Catherine and is also attributed by the KHM to van der Weyden, but is inferior in quality and generally regarded as by a workshop member.

<i>Virgin and Child Enthroned</i> c. 1433 painting attributed to Rogier van der Weyden

The Virgin and Child Enthroned is a small oil-on-oak panel painting dated c. 1433, usually attributed to the Early Netherlandish artist Rogier van der Weyden. It is closely related to his Madonna Standing, completed during the same period. The panel is filled with Christian iconography, including representations of prophets, the Annunciation, Christ's infancy and resurrection, and Mary's Coronation. It is generally accepted as the earliest extant work by van der Weyden, one of three works attributed to him of the Virgin and Child enclosed in a niche on an exterior wall of a Gothic church. The panel is housed in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.


  1. 1 2 Bodkin, Thomas (January 2010). The Approach to Painting. READ BOOKS. p. 107. ISBN   978-1-4446-5858-3 . Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  2. Champlin, John Denison; Charles Callahan Perkins (1913). Cyclopedia of painters and paintings. C. Scribner's sons. p.  163 . Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  3. 1 2 Patrick, James (2007). Renaissance and Reformation. Marshall Cavendish. p. 1183. ISBN   978-0-7614-7650-4 . Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  4. Muntz, Eugene (May 2005). Raphael: His Life, Works, and Times. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 76–77. ISBN   978-0-7661-9396-3 . Retrieved 26 June 2010. Struck by the beauty of The Three Graces, which Cardinal Piccolomini had transferred from Rome to the Siena Library, he made a copy of it, which..., as might be expected, was full of faults due to the artist's inexperience...
  5. Cartwright, Julia (18 October 2006). Early Work of Raphael. Kessinger Publishing. p. 16. ISBN   978-1-4254-9624-1 . Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  6. Bodkin (2010), p. 108.
  7. 1 2 Cole, Michael Wayne (2006). 16th century Italian art. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 42–43. ISBN   978-1-4051-0841-6 . Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  8. Bodkin (2010), pp. 108-109.
  9. Roger Jones; Nicholas Penny (10 September 1987). Raphael. Yale University Press. p. 8. ISBN   978-0-300-04052-4 . Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  10. Cole (2006), p. 43.