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Three Graces



The Three Graces are universally presented standing hand-in-hand in an unbroken circle, signifying a gift which is passed from hand to hand and ultimately returns to the giver.  As Sophocles explained, “favor is ever giving birth to favor”.  Thus, grace begins with one woman (the generous giver), is received by a second woman (the grateful recipient), and is delivered to the many of society to whom the grateful recipient shares her bounty, thus benefiting the original giver.  Faith, Hope, and Charity work together to make the world better. Through the gift of the first, everyone benefits.

George Biddle’s version is rather different.

He portrays three women standing together, but not hand-in-hand and not appearing to exhibit the generosity or gratefulness or sharing of the Three Graces of antiquity.  Interestingly, though, the women’s heads are all tilted in ways similar to other depictions of the three graces.  And though these women lack the eroticism found in Antonio Canova’s famous statue, they nevertheless show a frank sexuality in their bold nakedness.  The meaning of Biddle’s version?  Perhaps each viewer will reach his or her own conclusion.

Biddle considered this work (part of his “Paris Series”) to be one of his finest prints.

At least six examples out of the 100 impressions of this work in the edition are owned by museums, including the Woodmere Art Museum, the Georgetown University Art Collection (Access. No. 1983.4.1), the Whitney (Access. No. 96.68.15), the National Gallery of Art (Access. No. 2008.115.900), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Access. No. 29.17.4), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Worcester Art Museum’s major collection of Biddle work (Obj. No. 1955.79).

Additional information




Signing, Dating, and Titling



Excellent Condition


Old Etchings


Lithograph in black ink on Natural White Van Gelder Laid Paper.
From the edition of 100
Signed by the Artist in pencil, en recto lower right, with date.  Titled en recto lower left.
This chart is custom framed in a solid oiled and waxed Walnut frame behind 99% UV-filtering art glass using strictly conservation-grade materials.
Excellent condition.  Beautifully inked, crisp impression.
Framed Size:
20.5 in. (h) x 16.5 in. (w) x 1 in. (d)
Sheet Size:
15 in. (h) x 11 in. (w)
Image Size:
12.675 in. (h) x 9.375 in. (w) x 1 in. (d)
Catalogue Raisonné:  Massey Trotter (New York Public Library: 1950), No. 34.
Catalogue Raisonné:  Martha Pennigar, The Graphic Work of George Biddle (Corcoran Gallery: 1950), No. 68.

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