Drawings by Alma-Tadema are rare. Early on in his career, before 1860, he gave up the piano for his art. In the same way he was soon to abandon drawing for painting. In 1895 he described his method:

I generally make a slight sketch of the picture I am going to Paint directly on the respective canvas or panel. I paint my figures direct from life in every instance, and always insist that the figure should be dressed and coiffured as commletely as though thg were sittingfor the finishing touches.

It was in 1896 that Henry Blackburn invited Alma-Tadema to submit drawings of his Royal Academy exhibits for publication in The Academy Notes. After a 30 year break he was inspired once more to take up drawing as part of his professional routine. Like those of Leighton and Sargent, these drawings were not just preliminary studies, but works of art in their own right. Swanson refers to the catalogue numbers in Vern G Swanson, The Biography and Catalogue Raisonnée of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Garton & Co, London 1990.

Last modified 27 November 2014