Sussex Saleroom: 15th, 16th, Thursday 17th October 2019
Anna Alma-Tadema (1865-1943), 'Baby's Throne': Louisa Forbes Robertson and her daughter Olivia, watercolour and pencil, 73cm x 52cm.; together with two albums of Photographs of Olivia, both with a poem dedicated to her by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, one with a pencil stud for the watercolour, signed and dated 1906, and three framed photographs of Louisa, Olivia and her brother.
Provenance: Sir Norman Forbes Robertson, and by descent in the family.
Exhibited: London, The New Gallery, Nineteenth Summer exhibition of works by living artists, 1906
This recently rediscovered work was painted by Anna Alma Tadema, younger daughter of the celebrated painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) and his first wife, Marie-Pauline Gressin de Boisgirard. Anna was born in 1857, two years after her elder sister Laurense, and the family moved to London in 1870 after the death of their mother in 1869. Lawrence Alma-Tadema remarried in 1871 and his second wife Laura was also a talented artist; both Laura and Lawrence had their own studios in Casa Tadema, the large house in St St John's Wood, that Alma Tadema occupied from 1886 onwards. Anna was taught by her father and stepmother and she exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1885 and 1903, as well as at the Grosvenor Gallery and the New Gallery.
Neither of the sisters married and Anna ceased to paint after her father's death in 1912.
Although Anna Alma Tadema was known to have painted well into the 20th century, many of her works have been subsequently lost. The present drawing was made in early 1906, and this post dates Girl in a Bonnet, with her head on a Blue Pillow (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), by four years, which had previously been her latest known work. This portrait depicts Louisa Forbes Robertson with her daughter Olivia, sitting sweetly upon her knee. Louisa was married to Sir Norman Forbes Robertson (1858-1932), a well known actor of the era, and friend of Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. The Robertsons were close friends of the Alma Tademas, and included in both albums in this lot is a poem dedicated to Olivia by Lawrence Alma Tadema. Norman commissioned the portrait of his wife and daughter which has stayed in the family ever since. Olivia's Godmother was the actress Ellen Terry, first wife of G.F. Watts.