The Nurse by Sir Laurence Alma Tadema OM RA, 1836-1912. 1872. Oil on panel 17 1/8 x 23 1/2 inches; 43.5 x 59.7 cm. Signed and dated lower right November 1872 and inscribed "Opus CV."
Commentary by Anthea Brooke
This painting is a reversion in subject-matter to the earlier Merovingian phase which Alma-Tadema gave up after his honeymoon in Italy. Alma-Tadema unexpectedly produced another Merovingian subject, Fredegonda, at the RA in 1878, and had exhibited a series of three scenes from the life ofFredegonda in 1875 at the OWS. When asked to explain the reversion to an earlier style, the reply was an airy "They are so picturesque." The artist had treated other bedside subjects, such as The Convalescent 1869, and The Visit of the same year, the year of the death of his first wife. In this painting Alma-Tadema has involved the spectator very much more than in the previous treatments with the hectic intensity of the sufferer's gaze staring out, accentuated by the whiteness of the iinen. The costume worn by the nun that worn by the subject of The Visit.
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