Over the course of 2021, the Three Graces Fountain was the focus of a preliminary study for complete restoration.
This initial study enabled an in-depth analysis of the techniques and materials used to make the fountain. With this new expertise, the Museum and the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique - IRPA) hope to reveal the answers to many historical questions.
To date, very little is known about this work. Its origin, its use and its history remain unclear.
- The Three Graces Fountain is reminiscent of the Three Goddesses public fountain. Located near Saint Nicholas Church, the Three Goddesses Fountain supplied water to the surrounding markets. Did the Three Graces serve the same function?
- In our Regions, during the Renaissance, Avesnes stone and alabaster were the materials favoured for sculptures. So why white marble for our fountain?
Who are the Three Graces?
This anthropomorphic fountain became part of the collections in 1889. It depicts three naked young women, a very fashionable theme during the Renaissance period. The young women surround a so-called Tuscan column, with a smooth shaft, a base and a rounded capital. It rests on a plinth in the shape of a truncated pyramid.
They are named Aglaea, the symbol of Splendour, Euphrosyne, the symbol of Joy, and Thalia, the symbol of Abundance. Probably the daughters of Jupiter and Eurynome, they evoke the life they live by dancing.
One of the Graces can be seen from behind with her hair braided and tied at her forehead. The other two are leaning casually on the column. Their long, curly hair falls over their shoulders. Framed trapezoidal panels adorn the different sides of the plinth. This bas-relief features mythological scenes associated with water and fertility.
The water used to gush out of five jets in the breasts of two of the Graces and one of the reliefs on the plinth. There is no basin to collect the water which, therefore, flowed directly onto the ground.
To find out more about the work, feel free to consult its inventory sheet.
- During the study, the room with the Three Graces is not accessible but you can see the restoration experts at work.
- This restoration is carried out by the IRPA with the support of the Perier-D'Ieteren Foundation
- 1st phase: from 11 January to 24 January 2021
- 2nd phase: April 2021