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Core Record

Title A Garden Altar
Collection Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Artist Alma-Tadema, Lawrence (Dutch and British painter, 1836-1912)
Date 1879
Description This painting depicts a priestess of Bacchus, also known as a Maenad or Bacchante, ‘with her typical swirling drapery, her figure expressing physical abandonment as she beats a tambourine' (Hall's Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, p. 37), revelling before a genii-nostra altar, upon which a fire is burning. She has a wreath of leaves, tied with gold ribbon, on her head. There is a statue of crouching Silenus, the drunken yet wise old companion of Bacchus, in a niche. A marble frieze of a similar scene runs along the top of the picture.
Current Accession Number ABDAG002533
Former Accession Number 01.1.3
Inscription front cr 'Genio I Nostri Felix L' (on altar)
Subject figure; buildings and gardens; mythology (Bacchus; Silenus; Maenad)
Measurements 44.5 x 22 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Alexander and Mrs Macdonald 1901.
Provenance Commissioned by Alexander Macdonald 1875; purchased by him 23 June 1879, £300.
Principal Exhibitions Grosvenor Gallery, 1880, cat. no. 52; Grovenor Gallery, Winter 1882, cat. no. 47; Albert Moore and his Contemporaries, Newcastle, Laing Art Gallery, 1972, cat. no. 84; A Palace of Art in Victorian England, Yale Center for British Art (touring) 1996; The Wilde Years, London, Barbican Art Galleries, 2000-2001.
Publications Portfolio, 1880, p. 91; Blackburn, H. G., Grosvenor Notes, 1880, p. 19; Vosmaer, about 1885, cat. no. 237; Ebers, G. M., trans. Safford, M. S., Lorenz Alma-Tadema, His Life and Works, 1886, p. 88; Magazine of Art, XI, 1888, p. 425, repro; Standing, P., 'Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1905, p. 69; Dirks, R., The Later works of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Art Journal (supplementary monograph), December 1910, p. 30; Russell J. A., Shire Publications, November 1972; Swanson, V. G., The Biography and Catalogue Raisonne of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, London, 1990, p. 208, cat. no. 251, (dated 12th June 1879 and numbered Opus CCV); Sato, T., Lambourne, L., eds., The Wilde Years: Oscar Wilde and the Art of his Time, London, 2000, p 88.

See Papers of Alexander Macdonald, Bundle 15, handwritten by Alexander Macdonald (Aberdeen City Archives): 'Townshend House North Gate 15 Regents Park NW 10 October 1876 My dear Macdonald The pedestal is placed since this morning and does beautifully very many thanks for it. Of course as soon as I have decided what to paint for you I will send you a scrap and I daresay you may expect the picture for next year about June or July according to your wishes.'

Rights Owner Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Author Jennifer Melville



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