In a previous post we examined the life and career of Lady Laura Alma-Tadema, Sir Lawrence’s second wife. Lady Laura, née Epps, had first met Sir Lawrence when he was 33 and she was just 17, becoming his painting student and within just over a years, his wife. While Lady Laura’s work was similar in some ways to the Romanticist style that her husband favoured, as her career progressed she became more specialised, focusing almost exclusively on domestic subjects and scenes. Works such as At The Doorway (1898), Always Welcome (1887) and Sweet Industry (1904) are all classic examples of the style and subject that became central in her oeuvre, in contrast to the Classicism and Academicism that Sir Lawrence devoted himself to. Lady Laura was a successful artist in her own right, with her work being exhibited at the Paris Salon, the Paris International Exhibition and at the Grosvenor Gallery and the British Royal Academy of Arts in London.

However it wasn’t just Sir Lawrence and Lady Laura who were representing the Alma-Tadema family name in the field of the humanities and the arts. Sir Lawrence had of course two daughters from his first marriage to Marie-Pauline Gressin in Belgium. They had met and were married when Sir Lawrence was undertaking his artistic training at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, and although Marie-Pauline is the subject of three Alma-Tadema portraits with her image also appearing in a number of his later oil paintings, very little is known about her life. Sadly she died in 1869, and Sir Lawrence’s grief over this tragic event has been acknowledged as having played a role in his subsequent relocation to England. She and Sir Lawrence had three children together, the eldest dying of small pox in its infancy, a daughter confusingly named Laurence who was born in 1864, and another daughter Anna who was born in 1867.

His eldest daughter Laurence Alma-Tadema made a name for herself as a novelist, poet and activist in England in the late 19th and early 20th Century, publishing works in a number of different genres. She published her first novel Love’s Martyr in 1886, when she was just 21 years old and in addition to her own collections of stories and poems, which she often published herself, she also wrote songs and works of drama, contributed widely to periodicals as well as editing them, and made numerous translations of literary texts. Of her writing style it has been noted that the, “characteristic tone is one of intense emotion, but in prose and verse she has the gift of compression”.

Her plays were produced successfully in Germany and her political activism included almost two decades of work towards Polish independence, as well as a well received speaking tour of the USA between 1907 and 1908. Not to be outdone by her big sister, Anna Alma-Tadema went on to become an artist like her parents, but as opposed to the oil paints that they both favoured, she focused almost exclusively on watercolours, noted for their high levels of detail and finishing. Like her mother, her work was exhibited at prestigious galleries around London, but she never quite managed to escape from her fathers shadow – indeed, many of her watercolours have even been mistakenly attributed to Sir Lawrence.

Like the Pissarro’s and the Renoir’s, the Alma-Tadema’s were a talented bunch, but with both daughters passing away unmarried and childless, the family line ended in the 1940’s. However, just like his first wife Marie-Pauline, and his second wife Lady Laura, Sir Lawrence immortalised his daughters on canvas, most notably in the 1873 oil painting, This Is Our Corner, pictured above.