The Graces are a subject revived in the production of Thorvaldsen over a lifetime, starting from 1804. The sculptor returned to the theme in 1817, in 1819, in 1821 and, late in life, with the cast of the Academy, in 1842. Addressing more times the subject, he made changes with respect to his own earlier compositions, as well as to the models from classical art and the group already realized by Canova in 1812–16. Since the composition of 1817 (Copenhagen, Thorvaldsen Museum), for example, the Danish sculptor inserted a new element, Love with the lyre, to suggest that the Graces, though concentrated in their mutual relationship, listen his singing. In the version of the Academy, the concept is reiterated also by the delicate variant of the arrow of love that one of the Graces touches with the tip of her finger. The words of the sculptor explained the reason for the introduction of variants in the academic piece: "I certainly came to give the best grouping to three figures and more grace to each of them". The maidens, in fact, are more spaced from each other, accentuating gracefully the tilted heads and the hanchement of the central figure. Thorvaldsen’s heirs donated the group, shortly after his death. (P. P.)


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