Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema : “At Home in Antiquity”

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, born Lourens Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), was a Frisian/Dutch painter. Born in Dronrijp, he trained at the Royal Academy in Antwerp, settled in London in 1870 where he spent the rest of his life. He happened to be the last person whom was granted a denizenship (1873).

He specialised in historical-genre scenes, beginning with medieval subjects and then following a visit to Pompeii in 1863 turning to the Ancient World. His paintings evoke a Hollywood vision of Ancient Greece and Rome with their sensuous depictions of beautiful women, exotic costumes and marbled settings. As an incredibly successful artist Alma-Tadema enjoyed a sumptuous lifestyle in his extraordinary studio-house in St.Johns’ Wood. He was made a full Royal Academician in 1879, Knighted in 1899 and received the Order of Merit in 1905.

In July, Leighton House Museum will present the first major exhibition of Alma-Tadema’s works to be seen in London since 1913. It will include approximately 100 works from leading public and private collections including a number of rarely seen pieces. Leighton House will be the final venue in a European tour that started at the Fries Museum in Alma-Tadema’s home town Leeuwarden in the Netherlands before travelling to the Belvedere in Vienna.

The exhibition will be themed around Alma-Tadema’s interest in the domestic interior in antiquity, as expressed in his work as a painter and in his own life, through the remodeling of his home into a Roman Villa. The exhibition will also use the idea of the house to introduce new material for his fascinating family life, including works by his wife Laura an extraordinary painter herself and his daughter Anna.

At Home in Antiquity finds a perfect setting in Leighton’s own studio-house. The interiors known to the Alma-Tademas as frequent callers are included in In My Studio. This was presented by Alma-Tadema to Leighton as a token of his esteem and is now part of a private collection.