Alma-Tadema’s Interiors

Anna Alma-Tadema (British, 1865–1943)
Interior of the Gold Room, Townshend House, London, c. 1885
Watercolor with scraping over graphite on paper
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Bequest of Milton McGreevy

Alma-Tadema lived with his family in two London homes: Townshend House from 1870–86 and Grove End Road from 1886 to his death in 1912. Both homes were famous for their distinctive architecture, interior design, and eclectic collections. Magazines, journals, and newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic profiled the artist’s interiors, often including images of his studio and other richly decorated rooms in their accounts. His houses were both an extension of his artistic production and a mark of his personality. In her book, Beautiful Houses (1882), Mary Eliza Haweis observed of Townshend House: “It is essentially individual, essentially an Alma-Tadema house, in fact, a Tadema picture that one is able to walk through.” Indeed, Alma-Tadema’s homes served as backdrops for his own paintings—whether set in the classical past or the Victorian present—and his carefully designed interiors inspired other artists, including his daughter Anna, to paint them.