Nineteenth-Century European Art - 7 of 7

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The Women of Amphissa by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Lawrence Alma-Tadema
British, l836-1912
The Women of Amphissa
Oil on panel
129.9 x 182.9 cm
Acquired by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1978

The painting depicts an obscure story recorded by the first-century Greek writer Plutarch: a group of bacchantes from Phocis awaken after a night of celebrating the rites of Bacchus. They find themselves in the marketplace of Amphissa, a town at war with Phocis. The women of the town have been guarding the sleeping revelers, protecting them from attack by soldiers. Characteristic of Victorian fascination with languorous women in ancient dress, the painting was awarded the Gold Medal of Honor when it was exhibited at the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1889.