Sir Joshua Reynolds

Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen

1773

In Tate Britain

Artist
Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723–1792
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 2337 x 2908 mm
frame: 2902 x 3382 x 180 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by the Earl of Blessington 1837
Reference
N00079

Display caption

The aristocratic Montgomery sisters, Barbara, Elizabeth and Anne, are shown decorating a statue of Hymen, the Greek god of marriage and fertility, with flowers. They were often nicknamed ‘The Irish Graces’, referring to the Greek goddesses of beauty and the sisters’ childhood in Ireland. The women’s poses are more often associated with the Graces than portraits of aristocratic women. The painting was commissioned by Luke Gardiner, Elizabeth Montgomery’s fiancé. A letter written by Reynolds to Gardiner promised ‘it will be the best picture I ever painted.’

Gallery label, July 2019

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