Alma Tadema’s Imagined Connections
An exhibit at the Leighton House Museum, ‘A Victorian Obsession,’ prompted some discussion on Twitter* a few months ago about the content of one of Laurence Alma Tadema’s Pompeian paintings, An Exedra (1869). I have finally had the chance to see the exhibit myself, and for the first time, see in person a work of art that I have long had an affection for due to its subject matter. What suddenly struck me anew about this painting is the way in which Alma Tadema included not just the two families whose funerary texts are depicted in the tableau, but that he also added a third, thus creating a connection between three important figures (families) in Pompeian history, Marcus Porcius, Mammia, and a Marcus Holconius. (For the point of clarification, another tomb is visible in the background, that of the Istacidii, but there is no text included in the painting that identifies it as such).
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