Oratory on the Via Osti in Rome - View of the Ancient Saint Pancras Gate on Mount Janiculum in Rome
Watercolour, pen and brown ink.
26 x 19 cm each
This drawing is related to the famous painting in the Louvre, painted in 1793-94. There is a repentance in the position of the arm and torso of the muse on the left. The background is simplified compared to the painting in the Louvre.
There is another drawing of the group that has been sold several times (see for the last one: Sotheby's, New-York, January 26, 2011, n° 662, reproduced). Also large in size, this one focuses on the contours while the shadows are cross-hatched. The woman's hand on the right rests on her thigh. A line sketch is also in the Louvre (RF 29248).
Finally, a drawing of this subject was presented at Regnault's after-death sale (Paris, 1-5 March 1830).
It would seem that Regnault painted Les Trois grâces to show a less radical way in the antique inspiration than the severe style of David in Les Sabines. Regnault used professional models for the nudes in his paintings, but he usually gave the faces the features of his female pupils. Regnault knew Raphael's small composition (Musée de Chantilly) based on the antique in the Piccolomini Library (Duomo, Siena). A beautiful group of the Three Graces from the Borghese collection entered the Louvre in 1807.
The mythological subject goes back to antiquity. The Greeks called them Charites. It was Hesiod who brought their number to three. In the ancient city of the Minyans, they were worshipped as water gods in the river Cephisus, as Pindar recalls. Daughters of Zeus and Eurynome (daughter of Ocean and Thetis), they are called Aglae, Euphrosyne and Thalia. They are honored respectively as the goddesses of beauty or splendor, of charm and gaiety, of abundance and creativity. They became the Graces with the Romans. Thalia symbolizes the muse of the theatre in traditional iconography.