Description & Technical information

The present sheet is part of a group of early drawings by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, all taken from a sketchbook, which have been dated to the late 1850s. These two studies of men’s headdresses may well have been drawn from a book of Egyptology. Alma-Tadema owned an extensive collection of books and photographs devoted to ancient and classical archaeology and architecture, and several of his earliest Egyptian subjects contain accurate depictions of objects and settings which reflect his close study of reference books of the period. As the artist’s contemporary biographer Percy Cross Standing noted of Alma-Tadema’s early paintings of Egyptian subjects in particular, ‘So careful at all times about detail, he took extraordinary care in the preparation of his preliminary sketches for these pictures.’

Egyptian subject pictures account for a small but significant part of Alma-Tadema’s oeuvre. Although he was not to actually visit Egypt until 1902, he began painting Ancient Egyptian subjects in the late 1850s, and continued throughout the 1860s and 1870s. Stimulated by his friendship with the German writer and Egyptologist Georg Ebers, his interest in Egypt was also inspired by his study, on a visit to London in 1862, of the collection of Egyptian antiquities in the British Museum.

The first owner of these drawings was the art critic and biographer Edmund Gosse, a cousin of the artist’s second wife, Laura Epps.

Date:  Late 1850s
Period:  1850-1900, 19th century
Origin:  Germany, The Netherlands
Medium: Pencil on buff paper
Signature: Inscribed (by the artist’s daughter Anna) with the artist’s initials LAT at the bottom centre right.

Dimensions: 13.3 x 18 cm (5¹/₄ x 7¹/₈ inches)
Provenance: The studio of the artist
The artist’s brother-in-law, Sir Edmund William Gosse, London
By descent in the Gosse family until the 1920s or 1930s
Acquired by a private collector
Thence by descent.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints