The Three Graces: From painting to print

The Three Graces, housed in the Baillieu Library Print Collection, is a 1776 print by Thomas Watson (1750-1781) after a 1773 painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). The large print was created using the mezzotint method. Mezzotint involves scraping and polishing the surface of a copper or steel plate engraving to create different tones with both soft shades and rich blacks. This technique was used often in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries for the reproduction of paintings, particularly portraits.

The original painting was titled Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen and it was commissioned by the politician Luke Gardiner, who was engaged to Elizabeth Montgomery, one of the three women depicted. Currently, the original painting is part of the Tate collection. More

Thomas Waston after Joshua Reynolds, The Three Graces Decorating a Terminal Figure of Hymen [detail], 1776. Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne

Image: Thomas Waston after Joshua Reynolds, The Three Graces Decorating a Terminal Figure of Hymen [detail], 1776. Baillieu Library Print Collection, University of Melbourne