Alma-Tadema, Sir Lawrence
b.Jan. 8, 1836, Dronrijp, Netherlands.
d.June 25, 1912, Wiesbaden, Germany.
Painter and designer of Dutch birth. The son of a notary, Alma-Tadema demonstrated an early artistic ability. In 1852 he entered the Antwerp Academy, where he studied under Gustaf, Baron Wappers, and Nicaise de Keyser. An important influence at this time was Louis De Taye, Professor of Archaeology at the academy and a practising artist. Alma-Tadema lived and worked with De Taye from 1857 to 1859 and was encouraged by him to depict subjects from the early history of France and Belgium. This taste for historical themes increased when Alma-Tadema entered Baron Henri Leys studio in 1859 and began assisting him with his monumental frescoes for the Antwerp Town Hall. While in Leys studio, Alma-Tadema produced several major paintings, for example the Education of the Children of Clovis (1861; ex-Sir John Pender priv. col., see Zimmern, p. 3) and Venantius Fortunatus Reading his Poems to Radagonda (1862; Dordrecht, Dordrechts Mus.), which are characterized by their obscure Merovingian subject-matter, rather sombre colouring and close attention to detail. Related Paintings of Alma-Tadema, Sir Lawrence :. | Caracalla and Geta (mk23) | Portrait of Ignacy Jan Paderewski (mk23) | The Flower Market (mk23) | A Difference of Opinion (mk23) | Hadrian Vistiting a Romano-British Pottery (mk23) |
Related Artists:Merson, Luc-Olivier
French Painter, 1846-1920
French painter and illustrator. He was the son of the painter and art critic Charles-Olivier Merson (1822-1902) and trained initially at the Ecole de Dessin in Paris under Gustave Adolphe Chassevent (1818-1901) and then at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Isidore-Alexandre-Augustin Pils. He made his d?but at the Salon in 1867 and won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1869 with the melodramatic work, the Soldier of Marathon (1869; Paris, Ecole N. Sup. B.-A.). As a prizewinner he then spent five years in Italy, where he was impressed and influenced by the works of the Italian Primitives, as is apparent in such works as St Edmund, King and Martyr (1871; Troyes, Mus. B.-A. & Arch?ol.), with its muted colours and rigid composition. In the Salon of 1875 he exhibited Sacrifice for the Country, St Michael, which had been commissioned as a design for a Gobelins tapestry for the Salle des Ev?ques in the Panth?on, Paris. Soon afterwards he was chosen to decorate the Galerie de St Louis in the Palais de Justice, Paris, with scenes from the life of Louis IX. This resulted in two large works, Louis Opening the Doors of the Gaols on his Accession and Louis Condemning Sire Enguerrand de Coucy (both 1877). He also used historical, often religious, subjects for his smaller-scale works, as in St Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Fish (1880; Nantes, Mus. B.-A.).George Edmund Butler
British, 1870-1936William Michael Harnett
Harnett was born in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland during the time of the potato famine. Shortly after his birth his family emigrated to America, settling in Philadelphia. Becoming a United States citizen in 1868, he made a living as a young man by engraving designs on table silver, while also taking night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and later, in New York, at Cooper Union and at the National Academy of Design. His first known oil painting, a still life, dates from 1874.
The style of trompe l'oeil painting that Harnett developed was distinctive and inspired many imitators, but it was not without precedent. A number of 17th century Dutch painters, Pieter Claesz. for instance, had specialized in tabletop still life of astonishing verisimilitude. Raphaelle Peale, working in Philadelphia in the early 19th century, pioneered the form in America. What sets Harnett's work apart, besides his enormous skill, is his interest in depicting objects not usually made the subject of a painting.
Harnett painted musical instruments, hanging game, and tankards, but also painted the unconventional Golden Horseshoe (1886), a single rusted horseshoe shown nailed to a board. He painted a casual jumble of second-hand books set on top of a crate, Job Lot, Cheap (1878), as well as firearms and even paper currency. His works sold well, but they were more likely to be found hanging in a tavern or a business office than in a museum, as they did not conform to contemporary notions of high art.
Harnett spent the years 1880?C1886 in Europe, staying in Munich from 1881 until early 1885. Harnett's best-known paintings, the four versions of After The Hunt, were painted between 1883 and 1885. Each is an imposing composition of hunting equipment and dead game, hanging on a door with ornate hinges at the right and keyhole plate at the left. These paintings, like the horseshoe or currency depictions mentioned earlier, are especially effective as trompe l'oeil because the objects occupy a shallow space, meaning that the illusion is not spoiled by parallax shift if the viewer moves.
Overall, Harnett's work is most comparable to that of the slightly younger John F. Peto. The two artists knew each other, and a comparison can be made between two paintings featuring violins. Harnett's Music and Good Luck from 1888 shows the violin hanging upright on a door with ornate hinges and with a slightly torn piece of sheet music behind it. The elements are arranged in a stable, deliberate manner. Peto's 1890 painting shows the violin hanging askew, as well as chipped and worn, with one string broken. The sheet music is dog-eared and torn around the edges, and placed haphazardly behind the instrument. The hinges are less ornate, and one is broken. Harnett's objects show signs of use but are well preserved, while Peto's more humble objects are nearly used up.
Crippling rheumatism plagued Harnett in his last years, reducing the number but not the quality of his paintings. He died in New York City in 1892. Other artists who painted similar compositions in Harnett's wake include his contemporary John Haberle and successors such as Otis Kaye and Jefferson David Chalfant.