Three mythological Art Deco figures on a 57th Street apartment building

Walk along 57th Street, and you’ll see many examples of Art Deco architecture and ornamentation: geometrical shapes, zigzags, and even sculptures of mighty male figures toiling in the modern city. That last one is part of the facade of the 40-story Fuller Building.

Farther east, where office towers recede and elegant apartment buildings line quieter stretches of East Midtown, there’s a different example of Art Deco artistry on one specific residence.

The building is 320 East 57th Street. Take a look at the images above the entrance: three nude women hold hands in a kind of dance, surrounded by floral motifs. Helpful Ephemeral New York readers pointed out that these are the Three Graces, the goddess daughters of Zeus in Greek mythology. Each daughter bestows a particular gift on humanity: mirth, elegance, and youth and beauty.

The bas relief appears to be modeled after this sculpture by Antonio Canova from 1814-1817, which is currently housed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

I imagine the Three Graces has been here since the building was completed in 1926, according to Streeteasy—which attributes the ironwork in the lobby to French ironworker Edgar Brandt, a giant of Art Deco design.

Could Brandt be the sculptor behind the figures? I saw no attribution in the building, which only has a plaque outside noting that Paulette Goddard and Erich Maria Remarque resided there.

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8 Responses to “Three mythological Art Deco figures on a 57th Street apartment building”

  1. countrypaul Says:

    Very beautiful. I hope the Prude Patrol doesn’t see this post and demand burqas be draped over them! (Only half kidding….)

  2. MarthaF Says:

    This is a classical represention of the Three Graces from classical literature and mythology. Popular depiction during the Renaissance. Very highbrow!

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t realize this, so thank you for pointing it out. The Three Graces, of course!

  3. Bella Stander Says:

    Those aren’t just women; they’re the Three Graces: “the three daughters of Zeus, each of whom is described as being able to bestow a particular gift on humanity: Euphrosyne (mirth), Aglaia (elegance) and Thalia (youth and beauty).” See:
    1) Sculpture by Antonio Canova: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/the-three-graces
    2) Print by Jean-François Janinet: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.3012.html

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thanks so much Bella! The sculpture and print are both lovely, appreciate you sending the links, one of which I added to the text.

  4. velovixen Says:

    One thing I’ve always loved about Art Deco is the way some artists and architects were able to integrate classical Greek, Roman and Egyptian motifs into the modern shapes and colors. Thank you for posting this beautiful example.

  5. Susan Siskind Says:

    This building was a question on Jeopardy. “literary landmarks”. Stumped all the contestants” except yours truly who passes the building every day.

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