Lawrence Alma -Tadema, better known by its English name (it took British citizenship in 1872), was born in Holland, Dronrijp, in 1836. He began his training at the Academy of Antwerp where he worked between 1852 and 1856 . He spent 1857 with the Louis archeology professor Taye and then perfected with Baron Henrik Leys, a history painter whose meticulous reconstructions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were to give him a taste of archaeological accuracy. He first specialized in Merovingian and Egyptian scenes before trourner to ancient Rome. Elected member of the Academy of Antwerp in 1861, he was touted as an outstanding artist in an international art dealer, the Belgian Ernst Gambert, whom he met in 1864. The twenty-four canvases commanded him Gambert for his London gallery secured him an immediate success in England. Alma-Tadema exhibited at the Royal Academy in London from 1869. After striking the English prudishness with nudity, the model of the sculptor (1877), he returned to more Victorian and measurement now quartered in the genre that pleased his audience: his figures half naked, presented in striking Greco-Roman decor of "truth" earned him the title of "painter of marble" and soon conquered America.
Alma-Tadema was discovered Pompeii during his honeymoon in 1863. With an outstanding collection of Roman and Greek antiquities photographs (not less than 168 volumes!), He had an inexhaustible repertoire of objects of everyday life Rome, Athens and Pompeii. Really love of antiquity, he transformed his house in Regent's Park - which was to be partially détruuite in 1874 by the explosion of a barge loaded with gunpowder - in Pompeian villa!
Alma-Tadema exhibited several times in France. Already a gold medal at the 1864 Salon for Egypt of the past, he submitted two paintings at the 1874 Salon, The Tenth Plague of Egypt, death of the firstborn and sculpture, commissioned portraits, undoubtedly a canvas of the same vein as the 1867 Sculpture Gallery or that of 1874. Mocking the taste of "the crowd" to "subjects" and "images", Zola cites "the paintings of Alma Tadema M., whose archaeological strangeness amazes and stops people by the collar, "among" the most viewed works "of the exhibition. Even success for lascivious bacchantes of Amfissa Women (1887): they earned the painter an honorary gold medal at the Universal Exhibition of 1889.
Knight of the Order of Leopold I ° in Brussels in 1865, a member of the Royal Academy since 1879, knighted by Queen Victoria in 1899, "Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema" was undoubtedly one of the most famous painters the second half of the nineteenth century. Late triumph of Impressionism was still dry up public enthusiasm for languorous antiquailleries the Victorian artist John Ruskin and will even declare that it was "the worst of the painters of the nineteenth century!" ... when he felt the taste change and decrease its influence, Alma-Tadema retired from the stage: in 1911, he resigned from the Royal Academy; he died a year later on June 25, 1912, in Wiesbaden, Germany, where he had gone to take the waters.
Honored in death as he had been in life, the painter was buried in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral in London with artists he loved as Lord Leighton. After an eclipse of the century three quarters, the work of Alma-Tadema back into fashion in addition to its influence on the "peplum" American, the many sites devoted to it in the United States and the sale to 1.5 million books, the discovery of Moses in 1995 testify to this revival of Victorian painting.