The Three Graces

Mythology was one of Rubens’ favourite subjects. Here, he has used it as an excuse to make a full study of the female nude. The fable tells of the three Greek goddesses, Aglaea {agg-lie-a}, Euphrosyne {yufrossinny} and Thalia {the-lie-a}, who were the personifications of beauty. The painter has portrayed two of his wives in this picture. One of them, Isabel Brandt, had already died. The other was Elena Fourment. As you can see, Rubens ideal of beauty was very differentd from our tastes today. This may have been due to the influence of Titian, or quite simply Ruben’s own personal taste. The three women wear transparent veils which can been seen in his previous paintings, but never before quite so natural looking. Their heads are adorned with jewels. Oddly enough, various kinds of jewellery are shown in many female nudes – bracelets, necklaces and earrings. It would seem that they found it harder to remove their jewellery than their clothes…

In the lower part of the picture on the left, we can see a landscape with gazelles and at the top is a garland of flowers supposedly painted by Brueghel, who was a disciple of Rubens’ workshop.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns