Manchester Art Gallery

Silver Favourites

Object description

This is a painting which depicts a scene in ancient Rome. Three women are pictured on a wide stone balcony; one stands holding a tray of food from which she feeds fish in a pond, another lies along the balcony, and the third sits, looking down with flowers beside her. The very dark blue sea is in contrast to the pale sky in the background. The verse on the frame is from Wordsworth's poem 'Gold and Silver Fishes in a Vase'. He wonders what captive life must be like for the fish yet cannot help taking pleasure in their loveliness. The women 'trapped' in this painting are admired by the viewer for their beauty and, like the fish, seem indolent and slightly bored.

Display label

Silver Favourites about 1903 Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema 1836-1912 Oil on panel The verse on the frame is from Wordsworth's poem Gold and Silver Fishes in a Vase. He wonders what captive life must be like for the fish yet cannot help taking pleasure in their loveliness. The women 'trapped' in this painting are admired by the viewer for their beauty and, like the fish, seem indolent and slightly bored. Alma-Tadema's paintings were extremely popular. He chose scenes of everyday life in Ancient Rome which people could relate to easily. He carefully researched all the antique detail so the paintings remained highbrow in intent although some critics still criticised his 'Victorians in togas'. James Blair bequest 1917.235