Description This is one of the few surviving early works by the Dutch-born painter who would enjoy exceptional popularity in Great Britain and America with his re-creations of scenes set in ancient Greece and Rome. In this painting, which is a study rather than a finished work, Alma-Tadema captures the image of his model posed against a strongly illuminated background. The dress of this young man of African descent, who wears an Astrakhan hat, heavy wool jacket, tunic, and scarf, suggests that he may be a sailor. A sense of immediacy has been imparted to the likeness by the brushwork, which is remarkably spontaneous and vigorous for an artist whose paintings are known for their high degree of finish. This sketch is one of two that the artist made of this subject. The other showing the man in profile was retained by the artist's descendants; its present location is unknown.
Provenance Private collection, The Netherlands; Mouart [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Koninklijk Museum, Antwerp [date of acquisition unknown], by gift [later deaccessioned]; John H. Schlichte-Bergen, Amsterdam [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, April 13, 1994, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase, 1994
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