Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A. (1836-1912)
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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A. (1836-1912)

Play Garden

Details
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A. (1836-1912)
Play Garden
signed and inscribed 'L Alma-Tadema Op. CLIII' (upper left)
oil on panel
10 5/8 x 35¾ in. (27 x 90.8 cm.)
Provenance
Commissioned by Messrs. Ernest Gambart, London, 1875.
Bought by John Glass Sandeman, Glasgow, 1876.
Dr. D. Dyce Brown; Christie's, London, 3 April 1911, lot 114a (330 gns to Sampson).
with Maple & Co., London, by 1913.
John Drake Esq., until 1963.
Literature
Letter from Alma-Tadema to Vosmaer, 18 October 1876, C.J.J.G. Vosmaer, Leiden, no. 26.
C. Vosmaer, Catalogue Raisonné of Lawrence Alma-Tadema, unpublished manuscript with later additions, Leiden, circa 1885, no. 175. c. H.
H. Zimmern, Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema RA, London, 1902, p. 70.
Royal Academy, Exhibition of works by the late Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA, OM, Winter Memorial Exhibition, London, 1913, p. 14.
V.G. Swanson, 'Unknown Alma-Tadema Pictures Spotlighted', Springville Museum of Art, Utah, Quarterly Bulletin I, no. 4, Autumn 1980, p. 6, illustrated.
V.G. Swanson, The Biography and Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, London, 1990, pp. 183-4, no. 189, illustrated p. 363.
Exhibited
Brussels Salon, 1875.
Glasgow, 1876.
London, Grosvenor Gallery, Winter, 1882, no. 86.
Birmingham, Royal Society of Artists, 31st Spring Exhibition, 1896, no. 348.
London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of works by the late Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema RA, OM, Winter Memorial Exhibition, 1913, no. 23.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.
Post lot text
Fig. numbers refer to comparative illustrations in the printed catalogue.

Lot Essay

Play Garden is similar in theme to the watercolour Good Friends (Opus CXXXI, 1874) although their compositions are quite different. Instead of using his eldest daughter, Laurense, as he did in the watercolour, Alma-Tadema posed his young wife, Laura as the model for Play Garden. The work is among Tadema's most sensitive invocations of antiquity and the daily lives of patrician Roman women.
Play Garden was completed on 10 July 1875, when Alma-Tadema was at the height of his early maturity and artistic productivity. The same year he produced Water Pets (see previous lot) and was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy. His success was given tangible form in the lavish remodelling of Townshend House, in St. John's Wood, in the Byzantine Revival style.

Alma-Tadema has complimented the reclining, leisurely pose and languid air of the painting by his choice of flowers in the background. Poppies have sleep-inducing properties and are the attributes of Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep, and of Morpheus, the god of dreams.

We are grateful to Professor Vern G. Swanson, Springville Museum of Art, Utah, for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.
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