“It was one of the few moments in her brief and troubled life that it was sweet to treasure.” Weaving a rose garland as a present for her beloved master Glaucus, the blind servant Nydia resists speaking of her love for him. The scene is based on Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s enormously popular historical novel The Last Days of Pompeii (published in 1835), a melodramatic epic set in ancient Roman times, which culminates with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Responding to the 19th-century appetite for things antique, the artist filled his historical scenes with depictions of Roman frescoes and statuary. Dutch by birth, Alma-Tadema made this picture in Brussels for a London art dealer. But the demand for such paintings became so great that he moved to England, where he achieved great financial and social success.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art.