Lawrence Alma-Tadema Dutchman, recognized by the British as his great painter
Lawrence Alma-Tadema (January 8, 1836 June 25, 1912) was an outstanding British artist of the 19th century, one of the greatest masters of the historical genre of the industrial era. Alma-Tadema Lawrence was an ardent adherent of academic art, a significant part of his work dedicated to the glorification of the carefree life of ancient characters. The biography of the painter is a worthy example of a successful career as an authoritative artist, and most of his paintings are now kept in private collections.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema was also a talented teacher, among his students, especially his daughter Anna (Anna Alma-Tadema) and second wife Laura (Laura Theresa Alma-Tadema), who have achieved widespread public recognition. Unlike most of his fellow academics, the painter recreated the characters and the setting in his paintings with archaeological precision, thanks to which his work was always highly appreciated by critics and collectors.
Biography of Lawrence Alma-Tadema
At birth, he was given the double name Lawrence Alma, but many years later the artist made the middle name a part of his surname so that he would be at the top of the list of artists in all exhibition catalogs. At the age of four, the boy was left without a father, and all the worries of raising Lawrence and his five brothers and sisters fell on the mother’s shoulders.
From early childhood, Tadema became interested in drawing and his mother sent her son to study with a local artist. At the gymnasium, Lawrence loved the history of the ancient world more than other subjects, which later became the main theme of his work. Intense studies almost ruined the life of the future genius, at the age of 15 he fell ill with tuberculosis and almost died of a terrible illness.
Having recovered from a serious illness, in 1852 the young man was admitted to the Academy of Arts in Antwerp, from which he brilliantly graduated 4 years later. Famous Belgian painters Gustaaf Wappers and Nicaise de Keyser were his mentors. Lawrence without hesitation chose his genre specialization historical painting, to which he remained faithful for the rest of his life.
The first works of the young artist were dedicated to the era of the ancient dynasty of the Frankish kings of the Merovingians. Lawrence wrote a whole cycle of paintings on this topic and his creations were favorably received by both critics and the public. In 1862, the painter visited England for the first time, where he was strongly influenced by the masterpieces of ancient Egyptian art stored in the British Museum. This was the reason for the creation of a number of works dedicated to the country of the pyramids and pharaohs. But still, a little later, Alma-Tadema finally decided on the favorite theme of his work the era of antiquity, which brought him worldwide fame.
In 1863, two important events took place in the life of the painter. In January, his mother passed into eternity, and in September the 27-year-old painter married a young girl, Marie-Pauline. Unfortunately, this marriage did not last long. 6 years after the wedding, the master’s wife died of smallpox, leaving him with two young daughters. However, at first, Lawrence was not alone in raising children; for 4 years he was helped in everyday life by his older sister Artier.
In 1870, Alma-Tadema moved permanently to England, where he had many admirers. Here Lawrence met his colleague Ford Brown and fell desperately in love with his 17-year-old niece. Although the uncle and other close relatives of the girl were categorically against her marriage to a 34-year-old widower, a year later the couple still formalized the relationship.
In his second marriage, the artist had no children, but his daughter Anna made great friends with her stepmother Laura, and they both later became diligent students of the master. With the move to England, the career of the painter quickly took off. The local bohemia willingly took him into their arms, Lawrence was distinguished by a very pleasant character and easily struck up friendly relations with people.
status of a sought-after artist
Very soon, Lawrence Alma-Tadema acquired the status of a sought-after artist. Customers willingly bought his paintings; at exhibitions, the master’s creations were consistently noted with high awards. The life of the painter flowed without much worries, only sometimes he was worried about health problems. The only serious incident in the life of Lawrence while living in England was the destruction of his home by the explosion of a barge with gunpowder, which was parked nearby. However, at this time, the master with his wife and two daughters traveled across Europe, so none of his family was hurt.
The house destroyed by the explosion had to be completely rebuilt, but Lawrence was very enthusiastic about this work. In terms of current prices, he invested almost £ 7 million in renovations and a new interior, but he did not regret it at all. Just a couple of years later, the artist’s house became an important landmark in London and a center for communication of the best artists.
By the end of the 19th century, Lawrence Alma-Tadema had become a recognized European master of painting. In 1899, Queen Victoria even granted him the title of knight, and twenty years earlier, the British Academy of Arts – the title of academician. Despite the sharp criticism from the modernists, the painter had great authority in the world of fine arts and earned a lot of money selling his paintings.
In August 1909, Lawrence’s second wife died, and this event was a severe blow to the 73-year-old man. His health began to deteriorate rapidly, despite the efforts of the best British doctors. In the German resort town of Wiesbaden, on June 28, 1912, Lawrence Alma-Tadema died of a stomach ulcer. He was buried with great honors in the tomb of the main Cathedral of the Anglican Church in the capital of the British Empire.
The most famous paintings by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
The creative heritage of the great master has more than 400 unique paintings worthy of a sophisticated modern viewer. And yet, some of the most famous paintings by Lawrence Alma-Tadema include:
- Teaching the Children of Clovis (1861) is an early work of the young master, on which he worked for over 2 years. On it, Lawrence skillfully portrayed the children of the ancient ruler of the Franks, competing in throwing battle axes.
- The Sculptor’s Model (1877) is a work written in a bold revolutionary style. Before Alma-Tadema in Britain, it was customary to depict naked only ancient goddesses, but not ordinary women.
- “Roses of Heliogabalus”. (1888) is a painting that critics received very coolly, but the customer paid a huge sum for it without hesitation. When writing this work, the master filled up the entire workshop with rose petals in order to achieve the perfect accuracy of the image.
- “Caracalla and Geta” 1907 – one of the last famous paintings of the painter. On it, he captured more than 2,500 people watching the events in the gladiatorial arena.