“There is no need to be afraid of using the language of exaggeration in speaking of an artist of the very first rank because he happens to be a contemporary…the plain truth is that in his management of light and shade, in his minute exactness of imitation, and in his extraordinary knowledge of what may be called pictorial effect, Mr. Alma-Tadema in his works of the last eight or ten years has probably surpassed any Dutch painter that ever lived.” -Art Review of Oleander showing at the Royal Academy in The Times, London, May 5, 1883
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was one of the most important artists of the 19th century. During a career that spanned more than 60 years, he painted distinctive and “real to life” depictions of classical Greek and Roman antiquity. The foremost painter of marble and variegated granite, he executed his idealistic vision in brilliant colors and rich textures, creating pieces which were much sought after by Victorian collectors. So compelling was Tadema’s work and connection with his audience that his art remained in favor until the onset of Modernism and World War I.
Tadema's paintings of classical antiquity earned him great admiration and success. He earned gold medals and highest honors in Amsterdam, at the Royal Academy, the Paris Salon and the 1867 Exposition Universelle among countless others. His meticulous research and rendition of antiquity greatly influences the modern view of ancient Greece and Rome today. Countless major motion picture directors including Cecil B. deMille (The Ten Commandments) and Ridley Scott (Gladiator) utilized the works of Tadema to inspire and instruct set designers in their depictions of ancient cityscapes in their films.