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  • Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
    Jan 8, 1836 - Jun 25, 1912
  • Midday Slumbers - Lawrence Alma-Tadema was one of the most renowned painters of late nineteenth century Britain. Universally admired for his superb draftsmanship and 'real to life' depictions of Classical antiquity he was much sought after by Victorian collectors who intimately connected with his vision. He so embraced the aspirations of his day that when the idealistic illusions of his age were shattered by modernism and the Great War his art fell from favour.
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Midday Slumbers
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  • Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
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  • Oil on canvas
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Other paintings by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema:

Master John Parsons Millet
Master John Parsons Millet
Maurice Sens
Maurice Sens
Miss Alice Lewis
Miss Alice Lewis
Miss Thackeray's Elizabeth
Miss Thackeray's Elizabeth
Sir Lawrence Alma-TademaLawrence Alma-Tadema was a Dutch artist who exhibited in Britain from the mid 1860s and became a resident in 1870. His paintings are vivid realisations of scenes from classical life and history.

He received his art training in Antwerp at the Academy under Baron Gustave Wappers and from 1859 in the atelier of Baron Leys. Leys encouraged him to develop realism and immediacy in his paintings, and criticised one of them: 'That is not my idea of a table. I want one that everyone knocks their knees to pieces on' (Swanson, 1977). In 1863, Tadema made a honeymoon visit to Italy. He was deeply impressed by Pompeii and abandoned subjects from Merovingian History in favour of more appealing Roman genre scenes.

In 1864 the art dealer Gambart first saw Alma-Tadema's work and was deeply impressed, giving the artist major commissions. Tadema's paintings began to appear in Gambart's 'French Gallery' in London and in 1869 he first exhibited in the Royal Academy. In 1870 he moved to London. British patronage and the disruption of the French art world by the Franco Prussian War decided him against Paris.

From the mid 1860s he had gained many European awards and honours including a second class medal in the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. After 1870 he was honoured in Britain. He became an Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1873 and a member in 1875, an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1876 (declaring 'I feel officially employed as an Englishman,'ibid.), and a Royal Academician in 1879.

He was knighted in 1899 and awarded the Order of Merit in 1905. In 1882, the year of his one-man exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery, he took Tissot's old house in St John's Wood. Here he lived in classical opulence, installing an aluminium ceiling in his studio which filled his paintings with a brilliant silvery light, and a brazen staircase reputed to be of solid gold. The best modern study of the artist is the monograph (1977) by Vern G. Swanson, who [in 1990] published a catalogue raisonné of Alma-Tadenia's work. - Hilary Morgan