Alma-Tadema as a Painter of Classical Antiquity

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (British, born Netherlands, 1836–1912)
The Women of Amphissa, 1887
Oil on canvas
Clark Art Institute, 1978.12

Lawrence Alma-Tadema was renowned for his ability to evoke the classical past in his paintings. Drawn to the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, and Pompeii, among others, he researched the subjects of his genre paintings (scenes of everyday life) by consulting volumes in his vast library of books, studying artifacts in museums, and visiting ancient sites. On his visits to Rome, Naples, and Pompeii, Alma-Tadema amassed a collection of drawings and photographs of ancient objects and buildings that helped him imagine and reconstruct past worlds for Victorian audiences. Noted for his ability to convincingly render marble, sumptuous fabrics, and ancient objects such as Greek terracottas and silver drinking vessels, Alma-Tadema sometimes combined pieces from different eras and disparate locales in an effort to create a pleasing composition.