Glaucus and Nydia

Glaucus and Nydia

1867

Lawrence Alma-Tadema

(British, 1836-1912)

Oil on wood panel

Framed: 55.5 x 81 x 4.5 cm (21 7/8 x 31 7/8 x 1 3/4 in.); Unframed: 39 x 64.3 cm (15 3/8 x 25 5/16 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Noah L. Butkin 1977.128

Description

"It was one of the few moments in her brief and troubled life that it was sweet to treasure." Weaving a rose garland as a present for her beloved master Glaucus, the blind servant Nydia resists speaking of her love for him. The scene is based on Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton's enormously popular historical novel The Last Days of Pompeii (published in 1835), a melodramatic epic set in ancient Roman times, which culminates with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Responding to the 19th-century appetite for things antique, the artist filled his historical scenes with depictions of Roman frescoes and statuary. Dutch by birth, Alma-Tadema made this picture in Brussels for a London art dealer. But the demand for such paintings became so great that he moved to England, where he achieved great financial and social success.

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