Entrance of the Theatre (1866) by Sir Lawrence Alma-TademaFries Museum
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Frisian-born Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912) was one of England’s most successful 19th-century painters. He was the storyteller of his time, and with his seductive paintings he brought Classical Antiquity to life like no other. His impact was so great that his influence resounds to this day in Hollywood.
On his honeymoon, Alma Tadema became fascinated with classical antiquity. He made detailed drawings of ancient ruins and excavated objects exhibited in museums.
It was this kind of paintings of ancient classical scenes that made Alma Tadema famous.
A group of people greet each other in front of the entrance to a theatre.
A bronze cisium – an open two-wheeled cart – has just dropped off some visitors and is leaving the scene.
They are attending a performance of the comedy The Girl of Andros by the Roman playwright Terentius (c. 186-159 BCE).
We know this because the names of the actors performing in the play are displayed on the right-hand side of the outer wall, with small masks next to them.
Alma-Tadema also added a pair of comedy/tragedy masks on the frame.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema was captivated by Roman antiquity during his honeymoon in Rome, Florence, Naples and Pompeii in 1863. He made endless drawings during this months-long stay in Italy.
At home in Antwerp, he used his drawings of the ruins of the Odeion in Pompeii, a small, roofed comedy theatre, as a starting point for Entrance to the theatre.
It is one of Alma-Tadema's first Roman subjects and from the outset was intended for the English market, hence the English title on the frame.