Lawrence Alma-Tadema is the archetypal Classicist painter and at his peak his reputation rivalled that of Frederic Leighton – famous English painter and sculptor of 19s. The unquestionable strength of his technical skill is most notable in the details bestowed on the many marble artefacts that characterise his work.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema was born Lourens Alma Tadema on 8 January 1836 in the village of Dronrijp in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. The Lawrence Alma-Tadema family moved in 1838 to the nearby city of Leeuwarden, Netherlands. His father died when Lawrence Alma-Tadema was four, leaving his mother with five children: him, his sister, and three boys from his father’s first marriage. His mother had artistic leanings, and decided that drawing lessons should be incorporated into the children's education. He received his first art training with a local drawing master hired to teach his older half-brothers.

It was intended that the boy would become a lawyer; but in 1851 at the age of fifteen he suffered a physical and mental breakdown. Diagnosed as consumptive and given only a short time to live, he was allowed to spend his remaining days at his leisure, drawing and painting. Left to his own devices he regained his health and decided to pursue a career as an artist.

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