According to Greek mythology, a ‘Charis’ or ‘Grace’ is one of three or more minor goddesses of beauty, charm, human creativity, and fertility and together they were known as the Charities or Graces. They were the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, a nymph of the waterways and clouds. However, it is also said that Helios and the naiad Aegle were their parents. They were considered to be the essence of beauty, charm, and grace and were closely associated with the Nine Muses.
The Three Graces were Aglaia, symbolizing elegance, splendor and brilliance; Thalia, representing youth, beauty and jubilation; while Euphrosyne signifying gaiety and or elation. They resided above the golden clouds on Mount Olympus and entertained the Olympian gods and goddesses. They sang and danced to the music of the Muses and the lyre of Apollo. They were also associated with the love deities Aphrodite and Eros and considered among the attendants of the gods Apollo, Dionysus and Hermes. At times, the Graces were considered the official goddesses of music, dance, and poetry.
The beautiful Grace Sisters were assigned to impart beauty, charm, and goodness upon the young women and to give joy and the feeling of happiness to the people in general.
As they sang and danced to the music of the Muses, they were closely associated with the Nine Muses and were also considered patrons of music, poetry and dance. While they represent beauty, joy and the arts, the Graces are also considered as the symbols of youth, creativity and fertility. They fill the heart of the viewer with the feeling that the enchanting goddesses were really created to fill the world with pleasant moments, gaiety, peace and goodwill.
The mythological story of the Three Graces was a favourite subject and source of inspiration of many eminent painters and sculptors of the world and they can be easily identified in art as they are most commonly portrayed as a trio of beautiful young women, either in a happy huddle or in dancing postures. Like similar other deities representing beauty, the Graces were originally portrayed clothed in Greek art, but gradually convention came to portray them naked. Apart from appearing in a well-known sculpture by Antonio Canova, the Graces have been painted by famous painters, like Raphael, Rubens, and Paul Cezanne. However, one of the most famous paintings of the Graces is Primavera by Sandro Botticelli, the great Italian artist of the late 1400s.