Object of the month: February 2015

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA, 'Miss Anna Alma-Tadema', 1883

Published 3 February 2015

A trip to Pompeii in Italy ignited a preoccupation with Classicism that spanned Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA’s career.

  • Anna and her sister Laurense were the children of Alma-Tadema and his first wife Pauline (d. 1869). This portrait shows Anna, aged 15, in the family home, Townshend House. She stands looking towards the hallway with her back to the area where her step-mother’s studio and the conservatory were located. Mrs Alma-Tadema is depicted in two of the painted ovals on the door, one of which shows her wearing a blue-bonnet and the other dressed in black. Anna’s flowing dress and seashell necklace are typical of Aesthetic fashions of the period. Anna became a talented watercolour artist and exhibited at the Royal Academy.

    Born in Holland in 1836, Lawrence Alma-Tadema studied in Antwerp under the artist-archaeologist Louis De Taye and painter Baron Henri Leys. A trip to Pompeii in 1863 inspired a fascination with classicism that defined the rest of his career.

  • Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA, Miss Anna Alma-Tadema

    Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA, Miss Anna Alma-Tadema, 1883.

    Oil on canvas. © Royal Academy of Arts, London.

  • Alma-Tadema moved to England in 1870. He established a significant archive of archaeological drawings and photographs, which became source material for his paintings. Although he strived for authenticity in terms of artefacts and architecture, his subjects mostly addressed themes of love and beauty that were common to contemporary genre painting.

    Find out more about Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA.

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