Canova's celebrated Three Graces
was modelled in June-August 1813, following a request in 1812 from the Empress Josephine de Beauharnais, the divorced wife of Napoleon. A second version was commissioned by the Duke of Bedford, who had seen the work in progress when he visited Canova's studio in Rome in 1815. Much enamoured with the sculpture, the Duke requested a new version, which was completed and delivered to Woburn in 1817. Since these two original models, the sculpture has been repeatedly imitated, with bronze reductions like the present item particularly popular throughout the 19th century.
H. Honour, 'Canova's Three Graces', in T. Clifford et al., The Three Graces, Edinburgh, 1995, pp. 19-60