“Spring”, Lawrence Alma-Tadema [Dutch, 1836 – 1912], Oil on canvas, 1894
I have always relied upon images seen in museums, art books, or online to jump start my creative impulses. Because of this, I was so pleased to find out a few days ago that the J.P. Getty Trust is now allowing the download and free use of nearly 5000 high quality digital surrogates of its collection. The plan is to eventually add more of the Getty collection over time. Here is what they say on their blog:
Today the Getty becomes an even more engaged digital citizen, one that shares its collections, research, and knowledge more openly than ever before. We’ve launched the Open Content Program to share, freely and without restriction, as many of the Getty’s digital resources as possible…. To read the entire post and access the Open Content collection, go HERE.
So I am taking advantage of this opportunity and posting one of my favorite paintings in the Getty collection. It is “Spring” by Dutch/British painter, Lawrence Alma-Tadema. It is a fairly large painting (70 1/4 x 31 1/2 in). Here is what the Getty says about it:
A procession of women and children descending marble stairs carry and wear brightly colored flowers. Cheering spectators fill the windows and roof of a classical building. Lawrence Alma Tadema here represented the Victorian custom of sending children into the country to collect flowers on the morning of May 1, or May Day, but placed the scene in ancient Rome. In this way, he suggested the festival’s great antiquity through architectural details, dress, sculpture, and even the musical instruments based on Roman originals. Alma Tadema’s curiosity about the ancient world was insatiable, and the knowledge he acquired was incorporated into over three hundred paintings of ancient archeological and architectural design. He said: “Now if you want to know what those Greeks and Romans looked like, whom you make your masters in language and thought, come to me. For I can show not only what I think but what I know.” Alma Tadema’s paintings also enjoyed popularity later, when his large panoramic depictions of Greek and Roman life caught the attention of Hollywood. Certain scenes in Cecil B. De Mille’s film Cleopatra (1934) were inspired by the painting Spring. (See this text HERE)
Each time I go to the Getty, I spend more time with this painting than I do with most of the others. There is a story in every face in this painting. This painting alone could generate ideas for several stories. I could use it as a reference for drawing exercises. I could excise parts of it for use in a digital constructions. My point here is simple. You probably already know this, so use this as just a reminder: Look at what other artists and writers have done and use it as a jumping off point for your own work. If any of the Getty folks are reading this, THANK YOU so much for making your collection available to us. What a fantastic contribution to creative persons everywhere. — ljgloyd Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.