Artist(s): Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Author(s): R.J Barrow
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 208
Illustrations: Illustrated throughout.
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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema 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. This study 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. The author also subjects the paintings to 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. Offering intriguing insights into his personality and intentions, this book aims to offer a challenging reassessment of a major artist.