Laurens Alma Tadema (1836-1912) was the son of a public notary in the village of Dronrijp in Friesland. At sixteen he enrolled at the art academy in Antwerp. On a trip to Pompeii in 1863, Alma Tadema developed a love of Classical art and architecture which meshed seamlessly in both style and content with his own precise, academic manner of painting. It was a to be a long & fertile marriage. One made in Romanticic Orientalism art heaven
In 1870, he moved to London, which was to remain his home, becoming a denizen (permanent resident) and changing his name to Lawrence. He was a popular artist and highly successful, receiving a knighthood in 1899. In addition to his depictions of life in Antiquity, he also painted portraits and theatre decors. In 1902, Alma Tadema visited Egypt, which gave his work a new impulse. Alma Tadema’s historical accuracy was remarkable for his time. Today his paintings are considered reliable reference for film productution companies, their art directors & stylists for historical movies.
In this scene from the biblical book of Exodus, Moses and Aaron (upper right) visit the pharaoh, who is mourning his son. The Egyptian ruler’s son had died from one of the plagues sent by God to secure the Israelites’ release from Egypt. The gloom of the painting reflects the father’s intense grief. One has to look long and hard to discern all the figures and details.
The Frisian artist Alma-Tadema was a great success in England, where he was even knighted. His representations of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman scenes made him one of the most popular 19th-century painters. In this picture, full of archaeological details, a woman is mourning beside the inner mummy case containing the body of her husband. His sarcophagus stands at left, while priests and singers lament the departed.
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