We’re serving up a piping hot plate of N-Y-C with a side of nostalgia in our newest Vintage Edition: Three Graces. Created in 1939 by American artist Julia Rogers, Three Graces stars a stylish trio huddled together at a classic lunch counter complete with checkerboard linoleum and swivel-stool seating.
Aptly named for the Three Graces of Greek mythology, Rogers’ illustration embodies a Depression-era take on the classical art-historical motif. From Botticelli's Primavera to Canova’s Neoclassical sculpture, the Three Graces have inspired centuries of artists—each a snapshot of contemporary visual ideals and artistic trends.
Symbolizing grace, beauty, and charm, each of these goddesses is typically distinguished in style, but dependent on the others—each an element of a whole. And while this shapely threesome recalls its predecessors in composition—even the neat stacks of apples give a subtle nod to Raphael—Rogers’ version is decidedly more Reuben than Rubens.
Rogers produced Three Graces as part of her work with the Federal Arts Project. The FAP was a subdivision of The Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was established in 1935 as a government program designed to employ millions of job-seekers for public works projects with the goal of alleviating the economic effects of the Great Depression. At its height, the Graphic Arts Division of the WPA employed almost 800 artists across 36 American cities.
Similar to the photographs produced for the WPA’s Farm Security Administration (FSA), the subjects of the FAP’s illustrations and lithographs often centered on the changing landscape of America’s cities. At the time, the diner industry was booming, with on-the-go urbanites seeking low-cost meals for speedy lunch hours and late-night munchies. From futuristic convenience in Berenice Abbott’s Automat to a quick stop for hot goss in Three Graces, 1930s food service was a modern marvel. Snag a slice of these vintage vibes fast, cause these ladies got places to be!