Alma-Tadema: At Home In Antiquity, Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London, W14,, until 29th October 2017
I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:
Unbelievably for such a well-known artist, this is the first exhibition of the works of Alma-Tadema in London since 1913. He was a great friend of Lord Leighton and will of course have visited the House which makes the placing of the exhibition here most fitting.
A visit to Pompeii on his honeymoon inspired Alma-Tadema to depict carefully researched scenes of life in Ancient Rome which reminded me very much of scenes from the very popular spectacular epic films of the fifties and sixties such as Quo Vadis?, The Ten Commandments, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Ben-Hur and apparently Alma-Tadema had been an inspiration for some of the filmmakers even as late as Gladiator. Indeed many of his paintings are amazingly in the CinemaScope ratio!
There are photographs, artefacts and drawings and paintings from his two houses, one close to the Regent’s Canal and the other in Grove End Road whose exterior remains largely unchanged. There is also a selection of the panels painted by Alma-Tadema’s artist friends including Lord Leighton which hung in Alma-Tadema’s house and which are reunited for this exhibition. The Studio will also house the portrait of Leopold Lowenstam a friend of Alma-Tadema which was rediscovered on the Antiques Roadshow in 2016 and is on public display for the first time.
The exhibition is a wonderful journey through Alma-Tadema’s work displayed in a beautiful and atmospheric setting.