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The Sculpture Gallery

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The Sculpture Gallery

1875
30 1/4 x 23 1/4 in. (76.8 x 59.1 cm)

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
British (Holland, 1836 - 1912)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on panel
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1989.45
Location: Currently on view
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Alma-Tadema is known for his historical and anecdotal scenes set in classical antiquity or medieval Europe. The Sculpture Gallery is one of a number of scenes showing patrons at an ancient art gallery or sculptor’s studio. Here a slave—recognizable by the tablet hanging around his neck—displays a basin ornamented with Scylla, the mythological sea-serpent. The 19th-century collecting audience could likely identify the "Infant Hercules Struggling with a Snake," from the Capodimonti Museum in Naples at the left, and on the right, the statue of Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine, from the Capitoline museum in Rome. The Roman visitors are modelled on members of Alma-Tadema's family, including the artist’s wife and children, at the center.

The artist travelled widely and visited historic sites, gaining a reputation for his accuracy in depicting ancient settings and artifacts. However, it was modern technology that helped him achieve this renown: the artist collected professional photographs of artworks and artifacts found on archaeological digs, using these images as the basis for his scenes.

[Gallery label text, 2011]

Provenance
Commissioned from the artist by Ernest Gambart, London (dealer); William H. Vanderbilt (1821-1885), New York, by 1883; his bequest to his son George Washington Vanderbilt II (1862-1914), New York, 1885; his bequest to his nephew Cornelius Vanderbilt III (1873-1942), New York, 1914; his sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, April 18-19, 1945, lot 64; Renaissance Galleries, New York (dealer), 1945; Hearst Corporation, New York, until 1963; their sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, inc., New York, March 23, 1963, lot 81; bought at that sale by Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. (1909-1988), New York; his sale, Sotheby's, New York, June 1, 1989, lot 120; bought in at that sale; purchased by the Gallery from the Chrysler family, though Sotheby's, in 1989

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