Antonio Canova's first group of The Three Graces was commissioned by Empress Josephine in 1812. The marble was completed after her death in 1816 and taken to Montecarlo by her son, Eugène de Beauharnais. On the latter's own death in 1824, the group became the property of the Duke of Leuchtenburg and was transported to St. Petersburg, where it is now kept in the Hermitage. The group of The Three Graces was received with great acclaim, with Stendhal, the writer, claiming that Canova had created a new type of beauty, and with other critics admiring the ingenious interlocking of curves which created a pleasing all-round view.
Meanwhile, in 1815, John Russell, the 6th Duke of Bedford, commissioned a second version of The Three Graces from Canova. The marble was completed in 1817 and installed in Woburn Abbey two years later. It is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The second version of the group, from which the present reduction derives, is slightly smaller and varies in some details, primarily the rectangular pedestal behind the maidens, which is transformed into a round column.