Alma-Tadema, Lawrence

BORN 8 Jan 1836, Dronrijp, Friesland - DIED 25 Jun 1912, Wiesbaden, Hessen
BIRTH NAME Alma-Tadema, Laurens
GRAVE LOCATION London: St. Paul's Cathedral

Educated at the Academy in Antwerp, where Louis de Taeye (1822-1890) and Henri Leys (1815-1869) were among his teachers. In 1863 he married Marie Pauline Gressin Dumoulin de Boisgirard and their honeymoon brought them to Florence, Rome, Napoli and Pompeï. He had painted Egyptian motives before, but now he dedicated himself to Roman themes, usually portraying semi nude women with erotic radiations.

When the Belgian art dealer Ernst Gambert saw his work he commisioned no less than 44 paintings. When they were shown in England they immediately became popular.

Tragedy struck and both his only son (in 1865) and his wife (in 1869) died. Alma-Tadema moved to London where his star was rising and there he married his young pupil Laura Epps. Alma Tadema enjoyed his success and they lived extravagantly at Townshend House in Tichfield Terrace, Regent's Park. They had it redesigned to lool like a Pompeiian villa, but when a barge with gun powder exploded near the house on Regent's Canal it was partially destroyed and soon after its rebuilding they moved to a larger house in St. John's Wood that had formerly been occupied by his friend the painter Tissot, who had left England in 1882 after the death of his mistress Kathleen Newton.

Alma Tadema was a friend of the future king Edward VII, to whom he dedicated a series of pornographic works. In his last few years his work became less popular and he resigned from the Royal Academy committee.

Laura died in 1909 and Alma-Tadema reserved a plot for himself beside her at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. However, when he suddenly died in Wiesbaden in 1912 he was so famous that he was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral.

• Wife: Alma-Tadema, Laura Theresa (1871-1909)

Related persons
• influenced Godward, John William
• was pupil of Leys, Hendrik
• is cousin of Mesdag, Hendrik Willem
• was pupil of Wappers, Gustave
• influenced Waterhouse, John William


"Venantius Fortunatus reads his Poetry to Radegonda VI".
   (1862, Dordrecht: Dordrechts Museum)

"Boottochtje" ("Boat Trip").
   (1868, Den Haag: Museum Mesdag)

"A Juggler".
   (1870, [Collection Stanley J. Allan])

"The Sculpture Gallery".
   (1874, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Darthmouth College)

"A Bacchante (There he is!)".
   (1875, Liverpool: Sudley House)

"A Silent Greeting".
   (1875, London: The Tate Gallery)

   (1876, London: Guildhall Art Gallery)

"After the Audience".
   (1879, [Private collection])

"In the Tepidarium".
   (1881, Port Sunlight: Lady Lever Art Gallery)

"Portrait of Anna Alma-Tadema".
   (1883, London: The Royal Academy of Arts)

"Unconscious Rivals".
   (1893, Bristol: Bristol Museums and Art Gallery)

• Prettejohn, Elizabeth e.a., Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 1996
The Times
• Tobias, Rolf, Viktorianisches Lesebuch, Sexualität und Erotik in einem prüden Zeitalter, Bastei-Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach, 1985

Alphand, Hervé

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 09 Jun 2024