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Sculpture - The Three Graces
  • The Three Graces
    Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823
  • Enlarge image

The Three Graces

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1802 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Linda Murray

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 22, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, case 2

This terracotta appeared in the sale of Nollekens’s studio effects held on 4 July, 1823 at Christie’s. Some years later, it was compared to Canova’s Three Graces (A.4-1994; now jointly owned by the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Galleries of Scotland). Medwin wrote in The Corsair of 1839, ‘There is a terracotta by Nollekens, that far surpasses in design the Graces of the celebrated Venetian. The three sisters are most judiciously seated in an irregular mound, and their attitudes have all the simplicity and unaffected ease of which immortal grace and beauty are susceptible.’ A related drawing by Nollekens of a standing group of the Three Graces is in the Word and Image Department in the Museum.

As well as producing monuments, Nollekens was a prolific sculptor of portrait busts, and operated a thriving workshop in London. He spent eight years in Rome from 1762 to 1770, where he worked with Bartolomeo Cavaceppi restoring and copying antique marbles. One of these copies, his group Castor and Pollux (A.59-1940), is displayed in the British Galleries.

Physical description

The Three Graces are seated on an irregular mound.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1802 (made)


Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823 (artist)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 18.5 cm, Weight: 1.7 kg

Object history note

Sold on the second day of Christie's sale of Nollekens's studio effects, held on 4 July 1823, lot 37, under the section headed 'Pensieri in Terra Cotta by Mr. Nollekins [sic] From the Back Parlour, Ground Floor'. Purchased by Mrs Palmer for £2 12s 0d. Sold in the Mrs Russell sale held on 19 March 1847, lot 392, bought by Norton for £2 2s 8d. Included in the P. Norton sale held by Christie's on 19 January 1869, lot 1101, bought by 'B.B.' for £2 19s. Puchased by Peter and Linda Murray 'about 1962 at Petworth'. Given to the Museum by Mrs Linda Murray F.S.A. in 2000.

Descriptive line

Group, terracotta, 'The Three Graces', by Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823), English, ca. 1802

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie, British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002, pp. 104,5, cat. no. 143





Subjects depicted

The three Graces




Sculpture Collection

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