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London, Phaidon Press, 2001, Hardcover, 4to 11" - 13" tall, 208pp. Red cloth boards, from the library of Ramsgate Abbey with small pocket on front pastedown and ink stamp on title page else internally clean and bright, profusely illustrated. Unclipped jacket showing faint shelfwear and with small accession label at foot of spine strip. Heavy item, may incur additional shipping costs for international delivery.
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was one of the finest and most distinctive of the Victorian painters. Dutch-born, he moved to London in 1870, and became famous for his depictions of the luxury and decadence of the Roman Empire, set in fabulous marbled interiors or against a backdrop of dazzling blue Mediterranean sea and sky. This study presents an absorbing and often amusing portrait of an exuberant personality who carved out a brilliant career for himself at the heart of London's artistic and cultural elite. The author also subjects the paintings to fresh scrutiny, and reveals that Alma-Tadema, a knowledgeable student of antiquity, repeatedly used literary and archaeological allusions in his paintings to play a game of interpretation with his viewers. Time and again the seeming innocence of the scenes he depicts is subverted by a mischievously placed inscription or statue, suggesting to the initiated a darker and usually risque meaning. Neglected after his death, Alma-Tadema's paintings are once again admired for their beauty and their remarkable mastery of light, colour and texture. Offering intriguing insights into his personality and intentions, this book aims to offer a challenging reassessment of a major artist.