A Favourite Custom, 1909 | Alma-Tadema | Painting Reproduction
A Favourite Custom, 1909 | Alma-Tadema | Painting Reproduction

A Favourite Custom, 1909
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

Location: Tate Gallery London United Kingdom
Original Size: 66.1 x 45 cm
5/5 | 1 Review
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Oil Painting Reproduction

SKU: ATL-52
Painting Size: $845.00
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Reviews (1)


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Gygy
What is so interesting about this painting is that it is contemporaneous with Sickert's La Hollandaise and yet it could be a product of the mid-nineteenth century, titillation its middle name. The setting is classical, the place the ladies' bath-house. The attention to verisimilitude is evident in the marble flooring and benches, the floor mosaics and tiling, the frieze on the back wall and the vaulted roof. Alma-Tadema was an amateur archaeologist, and possessed a large collection of photographs of archaeological remains, along with his drawings of sites. The scene allows ample depiction of the female nude from various viewpoints and in different stages of undress, as the eye proceeds from the half-curtained-off entrance down to the submerged naked bathers, via the dark-haired lady to the right, who is either removing or replacing her robe.
Alma-Tadema was Dutch by birth, and trained in Belgium before settling in London in 1870 and assuming British citizenship in 1873. His work was immensely popular in the late Victorian period. Knighted in 1899, he received the Order of Merit in 1905. In 1852 he had attended the Antwerp Academy and subsequently developed his taste for historical themes whilst working on the frescoes of Antwerp Town Hall as the assistant to Baron Henri Loy. Alma-Tadema's paintings of this period show a use of sombre colors and overtones of North Europe's Dark Ages. In 1863, his travels to Pompeii turned his attention to the ancient world, and he painted a series of classical subjects set in detailed interiors and rich in deep “Pompeian” colors. By 1870, his reputation in Britain was founded on paintings such as Phidias and the Parthenon (1868) in which he combined an interest in the life of the past, in its human aspects, with accurate settings culled from his study of archaeology.
Success came quickly and he was elected a member of the Royal Academy by 1879. The palette of his pictures lightened markedly in the 1890s, the settings became more generalized, and hints of narrative and of the mildly erotic crept into his work. Unconscious Rivals (1893) shows two richly dressed young women on a balcony overlooking the sea. The vaulted ceiling suggests a wealthy Roman villa on the coast, the title a narrative of desire, confirmed by the marble statue of Cupid and the languid posture of the women as they gaze over the balcony. To the right, the feet of a statue, based on the Seated Gladiator in the Lateran Museum, Rome, suggests that the object of these ladies' affections, according to the custom amongst wealthy Romans, was a suitably virile young gladiator.
24th March 2014 3:51am

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