Sir Joshua Reynolds Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen 1773

Artwork details

Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723–1792
Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen
Date 1773
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 2337 x 2908 mm
frame: 2902 x 3382 x 180 mm
Acquisition Bequeathed by the Earl of Blessington 1837
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1760

Display caption

These are the aristocratic Montgomery sisters – Barbara, Elizabeth and Anne. Their father was the Irish aristocrat Sir William Montgomery and they were known as the Irish Graces. They are shown gathering flowers to decorate a statue of Hymen, the Roman god of marriage. Reynolds posed them in what he described as ‘a variety of graceful historical attitudes’. These were taken from the work of admired old master painters, such as the seventeenth-century French artist Nicolas Poussin. Reynolds intended this to ennoble his figures, but it also laid him open to charges of plagiarism.

May 2007