Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was truly an artist of the Victorian era. The luxury and decadence of the Roman Empire was depicted in his paintings with such extraordinary mastery that the viewer can almost breathe the air. The scenes and people he depicted are brightly illumined in a perfect sun drenched reality. His ability to paint marble stone architecture was described by one art critic of the time as being “marblous”. The grandeur of the architecture and scenes sometimes included hundreds of people, each one rendered with attention to fine detail.
Alma-Tadema’s paintings have the essential qualities of beauty, elegance and an innocence that was often infused into Victorian art. Historical subject matter that was more diabolical in nature was depicted with a non-chalance that obscured the dark story line. Grandeur and beauty always triumphed over evil.
The Roses of Heliogabalus is one such painting. as it of an episode from the life of the debauched Roman Emperor Heliogabalus [Elagabalus]. The Homicidal Emperor threw an orgy where the guests were suffocated under thousands of rose petals which were released from above. The roses Alma-Tadema depicted were sent from the French Riviera weekly for four months during the winter to ensure the accuracy of each petal he painted.
Alma-Tadema was born in Drondrijp, the Netherlands and was trained at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, Belgium. In 1870 he made his life in England from where he traveled around Europe extensively, gathering historical and archaeological information to accurately render the thematic story lines, artifacts, costumes and architecture of ancient Rome and Pompeii.
A resurgence of interest in Alma-Tadema’s work has brought about a re-evaluation of the impact his art had on 19th Century painting.
Beautiful framed art reproductions of Sir Alma-Tadema’s paintings can be purchased through www.Framed Art Decor.com.