Lawrence Alma-Tadema

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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (pronounced /ˈælmə ˈtædɪmə/[1]), OM, RA (8 January 1836 – 25 June 1912) was one of the most renowned painters of late nineteenth-century Britain.

Born in Dronrijp, the Netherlands, and trained at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, Belgium, he settled in England in 1870 and spent the rest of his life there. A classical-subject painter, he became famous for his depictions of the luxury and decadence of the Roman Empire, with languorous figures set in fabulous marbled interiors or against a backdrop of dazzling blue Mediterranean sea and sky.

Admired during his lifetime for his draftsmanship and depictions of Classical antiquity, he fell into disrepute after his death, and only since the 1960s has his work been reevaluated for its importance within nineteenth-century English art.



Early life

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was born as Laurens Alma Tadema on 8 January 1836, in the small village of Dronrijp, in Friesland in the north of the Netherlands.[2] He was the sixth child of Pieter Jiltes Tadema (1797–1840), the village notary, who had had three sons by a previous marriage, and the third child of his mother, Hinke Dirks Brouwer (c. 1800–1863). Hinke Brouwer was the half sister of Pieter Tadema's first wife. Her first child died early and the second was Atje (c.1834-c. 1876), Laurence's sister, for whom he had great affection. Tadema is an old Frisian patronymic (meaning 'Adam-son', the suffix ma being 'son of'), while the names Laurens and Alma came from his godfather.[3] Laurens would later adopt the more English Lawrence for his forename, and incorporate Alma into his surname so that he appeared at the beginning of exhibition catalogues, under "A" rather than under "T".[3] He did not actually hyphenate his last name, but it was done by others and this has since become the convention.[citation needed]

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