Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)AT
TitleSir Lawrence Alma-Tadema Collection
Extent168 portfolio boxes and 6 albums of photographs
Date19th century
Thumbnail (Click this image to open a larger image)

AT/AT_1_portfolio 123_11162.jpg

AT/AT Portfolio 149, 12059.jpg

AT/AT Portfolio 149, E2824.jpg

AT/AT Portfolio 117, E2623.jpg

DescriptionA collection of photographs taken either by or for Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, together with 584 of Alma-Tadema's drawings and prints. His pictures, chiefly of subjects from the ancient and medieval world, had an immense popularity in later 19th century England. They are notable for their almost photographic realism, and his extensive collection of actual photographs and prints revealed his sources. The photographs cover a wide range of subjects, including architecture, classical landscapes, costumes, antiquities and animals, and are excellent examples of nineteenth century photography. Alma-Tadema started collecting photographs as early as 1863 and used them as studies for his paintings in order to achieve historical authenticity.
NotesFirst photo at Fonds level is of Pompeii: House of Sallustius, showing Sir Laurence Alma-Tadema drawing (ref: AT/1/Portfolio123/11162).
LocationDrawings/tracings were removed from each of the Portfolio boxes by conservation staff, and window mounts were created. These drawings/tracings are stored separately to the Portfolio boxes and are in the large section of the archive store.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA paper catalogue is available in the Reading Room at Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections. Electronic cataloguing is in progress.
Access StatusOpen
Creator NameAlma-Tadema, Sir, Lawrence, 1836-1912, painter of historical subjects
Administrative HistoryLawrence Alma-Tadema was born in Friesland in the Netherlands in 1836. He was trained in Antwerp and came into contact with Baron Henri Ley (1815-1869), a painter of sixteenth century Flemish historical subjects and Louis de Taeye (1822-1890) a painter and professor of archaeology at the Antwerp Academy. Following his first marriage to Marie Pauline Gressin Dumoulin de Boisgirard in 1863, he visited Italy and, influenced by the archaeological remains he saw in Florence, Rome, Naples and Pompeii, he developed a life long interest in classical archaeology and architecture. He began to acquire a reputation as a painter of historical subjects, particularly of Greek and Roman antiquity. Between 1865 and 1870, he lived in Brussels but then moved to London. He was remarried in 1871, to Laura Epps, a former pupil, who also practised as an artist. He was a very prolific painter, producing more than 400 paintings in his lifetime, and his pictures sold well. His success, popularity and wealth continued to grow and he regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy, becoming an Associate Member in 1876 and a full member in 1879. He was knighted in 1899, awarded the Order of Merit in 1905 and the Royal Institute of British Architects' Gold Medal in 1906. He was buried in St Paul's Cathedral in 1912.

Reference: University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department, Online Archive Catalogue. Accessed May 2002.
AcquisitionAlma-Tadema bequeathed his books and collection of illustrations to the Victorian and Albert Museum, whence they were transferred to the University of Birmingham in 1947.
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library: Special Collections, University of Birmingham also holds the following archive collections: Letters of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Ref: ATL), and Letters Additional of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Ref: ATLAdd). Also Gabriella Bologna reproduced images from the collection in her publication 'Il paesaggio urbano veneto in pittura e fotografi' (Verona: Maggio, 2010).