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A Victorian ‘Arbiter Elegantiae’. The Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
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A Victorian ‘Arbiter Elegantiae’. The Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

(Luc Devoldere) The Low Countries – 2017, №25, pp. 158-169

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When he was alive Tadema produced art. After his death it appeared kitsch. If kitsch is, as Roger Scruton claims, ‘fake art, expressing fake emotions, whose purpose is to deceive the consumer into thinking he feels something deep and serious’, then Tadema is more than kitsch. Behind the impassivity of some of his paintings, there is something brewing that is difficult to put a finger on. Take The Roses of Heliogabalus, his most famous painting, for instance. Tadema has still not given away all his secrets. Perhaps he is what Nietzsche said of the Greeks: superficial. Yes. Aus Tiefe.

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