The Three Graces, a true masterpiece signed Della Porta


The fountain of the Three Graces, 1545, has been the subject of a study and a probable restoration. As with a police investigation, the many clues have been carefully identified:

– Buried under a thick layer of varnish, the stone turns out to be white marble. During the Renaissance, in our regions, sculptors used alabaster.
– The theme of the fountain, and the private scenes adorning the pedestal, undoubtedly appearing at Italian studios.
– The singular shape of this pedestal, a triangular tapered base, evokes the productions of the Della Porta workshop.
– A comparison with the fountain of the Palace of Boussu coming from the workshop of Della Porta indicates many similarities with the Three Graces.

These and many other elements allow the IRPA team to attribute the work to a major Renaissance workshop, that of Guglielmo Della Porta. This discovery sheds new light on the Three Graces but also influenced by the Renaissance in Brussels. And we are only in the first phase!

In collaboration with the foundation Périer-D’Ieteren

The Three Graces restored to their former beauty

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.

Practical information

  • 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 22 January 2021
  • 2nd phase: 26 April to 02 May 2021