Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema: a painter who inspired ancient Egypt …

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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)
The Discovery of Moses (1902-1904, oil on canvas, private collection)

When Art meets History! Let’s have a look at these amazing paintings which illustrated the beauty of the magical history of Egypt. With ever thanks to my adorable friend and Egyptologist Marie Grillot.

From French via; https://egyptophile.blogspot.com/

Lourens Alma-Tadema was born on January 8, 1836, in Dronrijp in the Netherlands into a very wealthy family. Very early on his artistic gifts were revealed. He then shared his life between his native country and Belgium where he studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He is passionate about historical and archaeological subjects, with inspiration from Greece, Italy and then, finally, Egypt.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)

This “orientation” which leads him to “paint pages of history”, he owes in large part to his archaeology teacher, Louis de Taye. Whoever becomes his friend puts many publications at his disposal…

“Alma-Tadema created his own specific visual representation of ancient Egypt in the context of his Orientalist colleagues such as Jean-Léon Gêrome, Willem de Famars Testas and Fredérick Goodall. He drew on academic sources such as his friend well-known Egyptologist Georg Ebers, just as he adopted virtual material from popular sources, such as illustrations by John Gardner Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the ancient Egyptians “(” Alma-Tadema’s Egyptian dream: ancient Egypt in the work of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema “, Robert Verhoogt.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)
The Egypt of the past, 3000 years ago (1863, oil on canvas, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston)

He frequents the Egyptian department of the British Museum. He will come back often to feed on the wonders found there and will be happily inspired by it for his “Egyptian” paintings.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)
Egyptian at the door (1865, oil on wood, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

As the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art points out: “In the mid-1860s, Alma-Tadema painted a number of subjects from ancient Egypt, in which convincing archaeological precision and astonishing liveliness seem to give life to a distant past. “
With “Egypt from the past 3000 years ago”, painted in 1863, the following year he won the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon…

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)
Egyptian chess players (1865, oil on panel, private collection)

In 1865, “Egyptian chess players” immerses us in an intimate game, bringing together three characters, concentrated on their game, while “An Egyptian at the door” puts us in front of a handsome young man with a questioning look. In 1870, his “Egyptian juggler” seems to evolve in a universe closer to Ancient Rome …

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)
Death of Pharaoh’s firstborn (1872, oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum)

In 1872, he painted “The Death of Pharaoh’s firstborn” and “The Egyptian Widow” whose play of light for one, dark light for the other, transcends the dramatic intensity …

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)
Joseph watching over Pharaoh’s granaries (1874, oil on canvas, Dahesh Museum of Art, New York)

Then in 1874, “Joseph watching over Pharaoh’s granaries” brought together two characters in an attitude imbued with theatricality. There are scenes from the tomb of Nebamun that the painter had admired in the museum. “On the fresco behind Joseph, he reproduces the scene of the goose keepers prostrating before the deceased who inspects the herds. We distinguish his scribe on the left, a scroll under his arm, writing numbers. On the side, a standing man holds a stick and enjoins the breeders to sit down and be silent. The cartouche painted on Joseph’s seat depicting a scarab and a solar disk is that of Thutmôsis He who also reigned during the 18th dynasty. This double reference to a specific period of ancient Egypt owes nothing to chance. In the 19th century, in fact, researchers thought that it corresponded at the time mentioned in the Bible “…

After living in Paris, Alma-Tadema had settled in London in 1870 where he was appointed, six years later, a member of the Royal Academy.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)
The Egyptian Widow (1872, oil on panel, Rijksmuseum)

On August 8, 1888, in the British capital, in the presence of other orientalist painters, Frank Dillon, Henry Walis, and the Director of the National Gallery Sir Frédérik Burton, he met William Flinders Petrie and Wallis Budge in order to alert them to the state of deterioration of Egyptian temples and tombs,…

In 1899, knighted by Queen Victoria, he became Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

It was three years later, in 1902, at the age of 66, that he discovered Egypt! One of his connections, Sir John Aird, invited him for a 6-week stay, motivated in particular by the inauguration of the Assiut and Aswan dams.

On his return, he will order him a large canvas, the only one with Egyptian inspiration made after having discovered this country … Thus, “The Discovery of Moses” will see the day … A theme often represented but which is sublimated by the interpretation that ‘in fact the master.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema – painter
(Dronrijp, Netherlands 8-1-1836 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 25-6-1912)

One of the pharaoh’s daughters returns from the river where she bathed in the company of her followers … She is seated on a sedan chair supported by young men, with shaved heads, dressed in white loincloths. Two fan carriers dressed in white tunics fan it by means of ostrich feather fans: around their long handle is wrapped a lotus stem. A musician plays the lute while the following two carry a wonderful burden that the princess looks on with tenderness and gentleness: a basket decorated with lotus leaves in which rests the baby she has just discovered in the reeds: Moses … The princess and her following are beautiful, graceful, sensual. Their clothes are airy and vaporous, their luxurious ornaments, their romantic expression… We follow them in this procession which leads the child towards his new destiny. The Nile and its banks are suggested, and flowers seem to line the bottom of the table disseminating a wonderful shade of blue …

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Victorian academic painter, close to the Pre-Raphaelites, has exhibited his works in many countries, from Europe to the United States, and even to Australia…

Some sources even state that several of his paintings “would have belonged to the American director Cecil B. DeMille who would have been inspired by them for the decorations of Hollywood films with an ancient theme like Cleopatra”!

Died in Wiesbaden on June 25, 1912, he was later buried in Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Marie Grillot { http://Marie Grillot }

sources:
Ancient Egypt by painters, Dimitri Casali, Caroline Caron-Lanfranc de Panthou, Seuil, 2011Flinders Petrie: A Life in Archeology, Margaret S. Drowerhttp://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artist.php?artistid=8https://lesdoublesviesdepompei.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/sir-lawrence-alma-tadema-1838-1912-au-musee-jacquemart-andre/https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/441350?fbclid=IwAR0rASwHljyhiScHm3skQkJl09pBIrvTzKTnEaX4vgqpmw86xB12nnlYl1wAlma-Tadema’s Egyptian dream: ancient Egypt in the work of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Robert Verhoogthttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08905495.2018.1484611?src=recsys&journalCode=gncc20https://www.wikiart.org/fr/lawrence-alma-tadema

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