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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Vern Swanson Interview: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

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    Interview: Our first podcast was an interview with Vern Swanson, Phd, Director of the Springville Museum on the subject of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912). Dr. Swanson is the author of several books including The Biography and Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Alma-Tadema: The Painter of the Victorian Vision of the Ancient World, John William Godward: The Eclipse of Classicism, and Soviet Impressionism, Hidden Treasures: Russian and Soviet Impressionism 1930-1970s, Utah Painting & Sculpture, and Artists of Utah.

    Below are some of the paintings discussed in the interview:

    Oil on canvas
    35 7/8 x 72 1/4 inches (91.4 x 183.8 cm)
    Private Collection"); ?>
    This is the painting that first got Vern interested in art in general and in Alma-Tadema in particular when he saw it as a young boy.

    Oil on canvas
    (72 x 110.5 cm)
    Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK
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    Oil on canvas
    (42.2 x 69.1 cm)
    Manchester City Art Galleries, Manchester"); ?>
    This is an example of one of Alma-Tadema's "bright and sunny" paintings, and a good example of his painting of marble as well.

    Oil on canvas
    (179.1 x 80 cm)
    J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
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    Oil on canvas
    (123.2 x 153.7 cm)
    Private Collection"); ?>
    In addition to this being a beautiful painting with some interesting implied stories in evidence, it is also an amazing technical accomplishment with at least 2500 tiny human figures in the background. It is all the more impressive when one considers that the artist was 74 years old at the time he painted it.

    Watercolor
    Royal Academy of Arts, London
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    Oil on panel
    (92.8 x 64.7 cm)
    Private Collection"); ?>
    This is an example of the red walls of Pompeii and of Alma-Tadema's studio.

    Oil on wood
    (56.5 x 47 cm)
    Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
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    Oil on canvas
    Private Collection"); ?>
    This is an example of Alma-Tadema's early paintings with "tragic" themes that we discussed in the podcast.

    Oil on canvas
    (48 x 34.2 cm)
    Private Collection
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    Oil on canvas
    (45 x 66.1 cm)
    Private Collection
    "); ?>

    Oil on canvas
    (38.10 x 22.86 cm)
    Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross
    "); ?>

    Oil on canvas
    (137.5 x 213.4 cm)
    Private Collection"); ?>

    "The Finding of Moses, a large, wonderful, incomprehensibly beautiful painting by Tadema, that says everything you could ever want to say...stone, flesh, water, light, flowers, everything. The painting in the early 1960's was put up for sale and nobody would buy it. Finally someone bought it $200 and someone came in and asked 'What is that painting going in your alley?' So they went out and found that the people who had bought the painting had removed it from the frame and left the painting in the alley. So they sold it again to a restaurant for nothing. That painting came up for auction at Christie's in New York 5 or 6 years ago and sold for well over a million dollars and if it came up today it would sell for 4 or 5 million."

    Vern also mentioned Alma-Tadema's friendship with the excellent Victorian artist James Jacques Joseph Tissot starting in their early days as students.

    posted by Brian Yoder at 11:11 PM










  • Tempera on canvas
    (172.5 x 278.5 cm)
    Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
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    Oil on canvas
    (98 x 163 cm)
    Manchester City Art Galleries, Manchester, England
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    Oil on Canvas
    (260 x 180 cm)
    Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA
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    Oil on Canvas
    (91.4 x 183.8 cm)
    Private Collection
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