born January 8, 1836, Dronrijp, Netherlands
died June 25, 1912, Wiesbaden, Germany
Dutch-born painter of scenes from everyday life in the ancient world whose work was immensely popular in his time.
Alma-Tadema, the son of a Dutch notary, studied art at the Antwerp Academy (1852–58) under the Belgian historical painter Hendrik Leys, assisting the painter in 1859 with frescoes for the Stadhuis (town hall) in Antwerp. During a visit to Italy in 1863, Alma-Tadema became interested in Greek and Roman antiquity and Egyptian archaeology, and afterward he depicted imagery almost exclusively from those sources. Moving to England, he became a naturalized British subject in 1873 and was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1879. He was knighted in 1899.
Alma-Tadema excelled at the accurate re-creation of ancient architecture and costumes and the precise depiction of textures of marble, bronze, and silk. His expert rendering of settings provides a backdrop for anecdotal scenes set in the ancient world. Alma-Tadema’s wife, Laura Epps, was also a painter.