Author(s): Rosemary Barrow
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), was one of the finest and most distinctive of the Victorian painters. Dutch-born, he moved to London in 1870 and became famous for his depictions of the luxury and decadence of the Roman Empire, set in fabulous marbled interiors or against a backdrop of dazzling blue Mediterranean sea and sky. In this original study, Rosemary Barrow presents an absorbing and often amusing portrait of an exuberant personality who carved out a brilliant career for himself at the heart of London's artistic and cultural elite. But above all she subjects the paintings to a fresh scrutiny, and reveals that Alma-Tadema, a knowledgeable student of antiquity, repeatedly used literary and archaeological allusions in his paintings to play a game of interpretation with his viewers. Time and again the seeming innocence of the scenes he depicts is subverted by a mischievously placed inscription or statue, suggesting to the initiated a darker and usually risque meaning. Neglected after his death, Alma-Tadema's paintings are once again admired for their beauty and their remarkable mastery of light, colour and texture.
With its intriguing insights into his personality and intentions, this book should provide a challenging reassessment of a major artist.
' ... scholarly and informative book ...' Times Literary Supplement 'This book, like the paintings themselves, is a joy of immaculate and comprehensive research with a lavish attention to detail.' Arts Opinion '... a fresh and sympathetic appraisal of this ... artist.' Daily Telegraph
Rosemary J Barrow is a Lecturer in the School of Humanities, King's College, London, and has lectured and published widely on Alma-Tadema.
Part I 1836-70 - Youth, art training, early career: Holland, Belgium, Merovingian Gaul; Egypt; Pompeii; Greece and Rome. Part II Establishment and success: a Dutch painter in London; into the Academy; landscapes, portraits, watercolours; the artist at home. Part III Final honours and the end of a career: views of antiquity; the theatre; the final years; Alma-Tadema in retrospect.