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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 1912)

Lifespan: 1836 - 1912

Related: academic art - eroticism in art - Dutch art

In the Tepidarium (1881) - Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema


Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (January 8, 1836--June 25, 1912) was a Dutch-born artist. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Alma-Tadema [Oct 2005]

In the Tepidarium (1881) - Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

This painting entitled "In the Tepidarium" is a small (9 1/2" x 13") sketch done by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema in 1881. It is unlikely that Irene Adler was the model. She would have been only 23 at the time, and is not known to have lived in St. Johns Wood (where Alma-Tadema resided) until circa 1888.

The rather obvious eroticism of the picture went unremarked at the time largely because the setting (obvious only from the title) and props gave it the respectibilty of high art, unlike the near-contemporary Olympia and Dejeuner sur l'herbe of Manet, which were all too contemporary in their settings. It is unknown whether or not Alma-Tadema intended the visual pun which seems to be made in the picture. (It is not immediately apparent, but the rug on which the lady lies is a bearskin rug.)

The remote possibility that Irene was the model does, however, permit a certain speculation, for if she were, and had Sherlock Holmes seen the picture, and inquired of the artist if the rug were for sale, it might just be that the rug in the painting is the very one which Dr Thornycroft Huxtable staggered to and collapsed upon in the case of The Priory School. --http://members.aol.com/mfrankland/tepid.htm [Oct 2005]

See also: erotic art - visual arts - art - 1881

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