Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.


Artists we Admire

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema Born: 1836 – Died: 1912. Was one of the most influential and famous painters of his age, that being the late nineteenth century in Great Britain. He was much admired for his superb figurative draftsmanship, and lifelike depictions and productions of Classical Greek and Roman antiquity. Whimsically known as “the Marbalists” ,because of their splendid use and portrayal of Greco-Roman architecture.

Alma Tadema who was originally born in Holland but moved to England as a boy, was much sought after by Victorian aristocratic and Classically educated art collectors who intimately connected with his vision of a time both of innocence and a time of some brutality He was so very aware of the hopes and aspirations of his era, but this was to be shattered for him and many more classical artists by the unstoppable influence of Modernism after the Great War of 1914-1918. Cleopatra

Alma-Tadema’s life was one of contrasts, great successes artistically and financially but great sadness in his private life. He married twice, in 1863 he married a French woman, Marie Pauline Gressin de Boisgirard, and they honeymooned in Italy where he encountered the newly-excavated ruins of Roman Pompeii. These images haunted him intellectually and stimulated his thoughts and imagery, they came to the fore throughout is career and some of his finest work is based upon the imagery he experienced there. However, in the 1860’s, tragedy struck: his only son died of smallpox in 1865 and his wife died in 1869, leaving him to care for his two daughters Anna and Laurence. The following year he married his seventeen-year-old pupil, Laura Epps, a doctor’s daughter and member of a then well-known family of cocoa manufacturers. In 1873 he became a naturalized British citizen. Alma-Tadema received awards and many honors from around the world, although notably not from his own country of birth Holland. His many honors, including a knighthood from Britain was followed by the prestigious Order of Merit in 1905. His clients included many members of the Victorian British Royal family, and their cousins the Russian Imperial Family –

Cleopatra testing poisons on condemmed prisoners

This artist was in fact a noted Society portraitist and so famous in his day that the British ‘establishment’ saw fit for him to be buried in St Paul’s Cathedral in London in 1912, two years before “the war to end all wars “ was over and social change swept into Edwardian England casting aside classical depictions of beauty for the much harder edge and less sentimentality of the modern art movements.