In the concluding part of my article discussing Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Frederick Leighton I will be continuing with commentary from Andrew Wilton and others on their immense contribution to Classical and Victorian art.
” If the academy was worthy of Rome in all its glory Leighton was the artist who embodied its antique aspirations. A prodigy, he trained abroad in Frankfurt, Rome and Paris”. .
” He (Leighton) eventually moved towards classical subject matter and became the doyen of the Olympians a loosely associated group of artists specialising in scenes set in Ancient times. Leighton’s paintings are charactstically suave , brightly coloured and beautifully drawn”. .
Leighton’s ability to paint large scale pictures showed his immense ability as a draughtsman.
” His large scale compositions with many figures organised deriving their special quality from pleasing antagonism between cooly refined finish”. .
” The elevated grandeur of these pictures is in direct contrast to the more prosaic inventions of Lawrence Alma-Tadema”..
Andrew Wilton continues his commentary on Alma-Tadema and why he described his genre as Historical.
” His (Alma-Tadema ) figures are models Alma-Tadema is referred as part of the Historical Genre , late 19th century people in fancy dress , his carefully researched representations of the details of Life in Ancient Athens or Rome curiously pedantic , yet he paints coloured marbles with a silky seductive touch”. .
The essential History of art compares both Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton.
” Often allied with Frederick Leighton Alms-Tadema was an equally scholarly painter who paid great attention to detail”..
” The Historical periods most often depicted by Alma-Tadema were those of Ancient Civilisations in particular Ancient Greece ,Rome , Pompeii and Egypt”. .
” His painterly style was opulent and voluptuous and richly coloured”. .
Christopher Wood in his book on Victorian Painting comments and compares the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of Millias , Holman Hunt and Millais with the Classical Revival of Leighton Alma-Tadema and others.
” Running parallel with the later Pre-Raphaelites was the classical revival which began in the 1860’s as a reaction against the dominance of Ruskin and Pre-Raphaelite ideas” .
and Poynter “. .
Wood praises Leighton as possibly the greatest of the classical generation of Painters in this period.
” Frederic Leighton was the Hercules of Victorian Classicism. With his extraordinary range of accomplishments, devotion of high art and his unique position as President of the Royal academy he seemed to belong to the World of Gods and heroes”. .
” Unlike most English artists Leighton was trained almost entirely on the continent. His own art is an extremely complex fusion between European and English Influences”..
Wood in his book on Victorian Painting draws a parallel between Leighton / Watts who interpreted Greek antiquity whereas Alma-Tadema was concerned to represent the Roman way of Life.
” Whereas Leighton and Watts sought to reinterpret The Greek legends of antiquity Alma-Tadema was concerned to depict daily life in Ancient Rome with the greatest possible degree of accuracy and detail”. .
Alma -Tadema was successful not with the intelligentsia but with the Nouveau riches.
” His success was not with the intelligentsia who generally disliked his work but with the Victorian Nouveau Riches. They appreciated his pictures because they combined realistic detail anecdotal content and a modicum of classical culture”. .
” Thanks to the influence of Leighton and Albert Joseph Moore his colours became lighter and his figures more attractive. Alma-Tadema was also influenced like them by Japanese art not only in his use of delicate colours but also in his use of deliberately abrupt and striking perspectives”. .
This concludes my discussion of Lawrence alma Tadema and Frederick Leighton two talented classical painters during the Victorian Period. In my next posting I will be considering the Art of the Native Indigenous peoples of North America and Canada, The Native American Indians who were defeated , their culture and their Art ignored by the Colonisers from Europe and Britain who were responsible for the mass slaughter and destruction of their peoples and Culture but the culture and Art of the First Nation peoples remains as I will try and show.
- FIVE CENTURIES OF BRITISH PAINTING FROM HOLBEIN TO HODGKIN. ANDREW WILTON:PG.179
- ESSENTIAL HISTORY OF ART. PG.147
- VICTORIAN PAINTING:CHRISTOPHER WOOD. PG.48