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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema - The Favourite Poet, 1888

The Favourite Poet, 1888
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Artist Biography
Born in Dronryp, Holland in 1836, Lawrence Alma-Tadema completed his art studies at the Antwerp Academy before settling in London in 1870.

His output was prolific, generally of historical genre scenes, and each piece was always numbered with Roman numerals, from his very first painting to his 408th, which was painted two months before his death in 1912. His first picture painted in London was Opus LXXXVI, From An Absent One.

Alma Tadema painted Greek and Roman subjects set in scenes of remarkable archaeological and architectural accuracy. They also contained an exquisite rendering of marble, silver, gold, bronze and silks. In 1906, he was awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects for his promotion of architecture in painting.

Alma-Tadema's love of architecture was also reflected in his St. John's Wood home in London, which was designed in the style of a Pompeiian villa.

Knighted for his contribution to the art world, Alma Tadema was elected to the Royal Academy in 1879 and received the Order of Merit in 1905. During his lifetime, Alma Tadema was universally acknowledged for his great artistic ability and, together with Leighton, was one of the giants of Victorian society. However, his work went out of fashion soon after his death and his reputation has only recently recovered to the extent that his paintings now fetch amongst the highest prices paid for any nineteenth century artist.
About this Piece
This painting is a fine example of Alma-Tadema's works, the textured wall and gleaming marble are painted exquisitely, his realistic depiction of marble led him to be called the 'marbelous painter'. The soft coloured luxury interior is set against a backdrop of dazzling blue sky and Mediterranean Sea.

By the human interest with which Tadema imbues all his scenes from ancient life he brings them within the scope of modern feeling, and charms us with gentle sentiment and playfulness. Alma-Tadema's female figures have a slightly bored pleasure-seeking attitude, as if they were pampered courtesans.

Alma-Tadema was particularly concerned with architectural accuracy, often including objects that he would see at museums. He also read many books and took many images from them. He amassed an enormous number of photographs from ancient sites in Italy, which he used for the most precise accuracy in the details of his compositions.