He died a century ago, a succession of brilliant and very successful paintings behind him. First of two parts in retrospect.
A popular title in the 19th century, it is almost a hallmark of the Aesthetic movement: no narrative, no meaning, just art for art’s sake. Except…
Beautiful paintings, devoid of narrative, symbols, or meaning. They represent the height of the Aesthetic movement: ‘pure’ art.
After a brush with almost Impressionist landscapes, did he settle down and paint Rome and Greece purely for the sake of art?
After his reputation was shredded by Roger Fry, Alma-Tadema was almost forgotten. Why should his work now be revived?
How did one of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood come to paint this clothed Andromeda, waiting to drown in the Solway Firth?
His classical narratives are as sophisticated as Leighton’s, his spectacles as good as Gérôme at his best, and he made some of the best paintings of the Aesthetic movement.
Reviled through the twentieth century, in his day he was one of the most eminent British artists. Is he due a revival?
His early paintings were narrative and highly original. From the 1870s they changed, becoming more Aesthetic.
His later paintings became weaker in narrative to the point where some seemed almost trite. What was he up to?