Three Graces

Terracotta statuette of three standing female figures linking hands around a central column

Claude Michel, called Clodion (1738–1814)
Three Graces, early 1770s
20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm)
Private Collection

This early work intended to support a marble basin exemplifies Clodion’s imaginative approach to the Greek and Roman precedents he studied in Italy. He interprets the Three Graces — guardians of life’s pleasures — as caryatids (female figures serving as architectural pillars). The artist embellishes upon the traditional single-figure caryatid by encircling the Graces, who link hands in accordance with custom, around a central column. Subtle variations in the figures’ poses, coiffures, and classical costumes enliven the rhythm of the composition, lending it a contemporary, naturalistic spirit.

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