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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

British, born Netherlands, 1836–1912

The Women of Amphissa


Followers of Bacchus, the god of wine, awaken in the marketplace of Amphissa, Greece, where they have wandered from their home in Phocis during a night of ritual dancing. Amphissa and Phocis are at war, but the women of Amphissa graciously offer the bacchantes nourishment and protection. The painting illustrates an event recorded by the Greek historian Plutarch, which Alma-Tadema staged as a lesson in charity for his Victorian audience.

Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions 48 1/4 x 72 1/2 in. (122.5 x 184.2 cm) Frame: 58 15/16 x 83 1/16 x 4 in. (149.7 x 211 x 10.2 cm)
Object Number 1978.12
Acquisition Acquired by the Clark, 1978
Status On View

Image Caption

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, The Women of Amphissa, 1887, oil on canvas. Clark Art Institute, Acquired by the Clark, 1978.12


[Commissioned by Agnew’s, London, 1887, sold to Thwaites, 30 Apr. or 15 July 1887];¹ Daniel Thwaites, Blackburn (1887–d. 1888); Eliza Amelia Thwaites, Blackburn, his wife, by descent (1888–d. 1907); Elma Amy Thwaites Yerburgh, London, her daughter, by descent (1907–d. 1946); great-grandson of Thwaites; sale, Christie’s, London, 24 Jan. 1975, no. 108; [Somerville & Simpson, London, sold to the Clark, May 1978]; Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1978. 1. A letter in the Clark curatorial file from Evelyn Joll of Agnew’s, dated 5 Apr. 1979, states that Agnew’s sold this picture along with another to Daniel Thwaites, of Blackburn, and that Thwaites’s great-grandson sold this picture at Christie’s some years before the date of the letter. Clark records indicate the first sale date as 15 July 1887, but Vern Swanson gives it as 30 Apr. 1887; see Swanson, The Biography and Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1990, p. 233.